Archive for October, 2007

Fall Family Dinner

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love when the air turns crisp, the leaves begin to fall and most of all- the food! So in honor of its arrival, I made the following Fall-themed menu for our “family dinner” last Sunday night:

Pear, Gorgonzola and Pumpkin Seed Salad
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Maple-Plum Glazed Turkey Breast
Pumpkin Spice Cakes

Stuffed Acorn Squash
adapted from William-Sonoma Kitchen


1 ½ lb. loaf country-style bread, cut into ¾ inch cubes
6 acorn squashes (each about 1 lb)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbs. unsalted butter
2 small yellow onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
¾ tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup chopped assorted fresh herbs (sage, thyme, oregano)
3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread bread cubes onto baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until bread is dry and crispy (about 25-30 minutes). Cool completely and then transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Increase oven temp to 375 degrees.

Cut the stem off each squash. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds and pulp from center and discard. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each squash to create a level surface. Season the squash with salt and pepper. Stand squashes upright in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add onions and sauté until soft (approx. 10 minutes). Add garlic, salt and pepper and continue to cook another minute. Stir in nutmeg and assorted fresh herbs. Transfer onion mixture to the bowl with bread. Add parsley and cranberries and stir to combine. Stir in 1 ½ cups chick stock. Spoon stuffing mixture into squash cavities and mound a small amount on top. Pour remaining ½ cup stock into the baking dish.

Bake until the squashes are tender when pierced with a fork and the stuffing is browned (approx. 1 to 1 ¼ hours). If stuffing begins to brown too quickly, cover the squashes loosely with aluminum foil. Remove squashes from oven and serve immediately. Serves 6 people, or cut each squash in half to serve 8-12.

Maple-Plum Glazed Turkey Breast
adapted from Southern Living, NOVEMBER 2000


2 cups red plum jam
1 cup maple syrup
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dry mustard
2 (16 oz.) packages turkey tenderloins

To make the glaze, bring the first six ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, stirring often, for 25 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place turkey on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt. Baste with ¾ cup maple-plum sauce. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done, basting often with remaining ¾ cup maple-plum sauce. Serves 10.

Pumpkin Patch Cakes
from William-Sonoma Kitchen

Knowing my obsession with all things pumpkin, my ever so thoughtful friend Stephanie gave me a Pumpkin Patch Pan from William-Sonoma for Christmas last year. I have been dying to use it and thought this was the perfect opportunity. Warning: NOT user-friendly or for those pressed for time! However, the actual cake recipe is delicious. I am sure the cakes would be good in a regular muffin tin or as a loaf cake too. The individual pumpkin cakes were a great inter-active dessert though!


3 1/3 cups flour
2 ¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
2 ¼ tsp. salt
5 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger (I didn’t use)
1 ¾ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice (I didn’t use)
¼ tsp. cloves (I didn’t use)
14 Tbs. (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 2/3 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 2/3 cups pumpkin puree


Have all ingredients at room temp. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat 350 degrees. Grease and flour William-Sonoma Pumpkin Patch Pan; tap out excess flour.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves; set aside. In a bowl of electric mixer (I used hand mixer) beat butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth (1 to 2 minutes). Add brown and white sugars and beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with flour. Beat each addition just until incorporated. Add pumpkin puree and beat until incorporated.

Divide half of the batter between the wells of the pan and spread evenly. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Gently tap pan and loosen cakes. Invert pan onto rack and lift off pan. Let cakes cool completely before decorating. Wash pan and repeat with rest of batter. Makes 24 halves or 12 assembled cakes.

To assemble cakes:

Use a bread knife to cut off any portion of cake that rose above rim of pan (I saved the leftover “muffin top” scraps- great with morning coffee!). Spread frosting on “bottom” cake half (I used store-bought cream cheese frosting). Place “top” cake half on top to create one whole pumpkin.

We then used green and orange frosting and candy corns to decorate!


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Spaghetti Squash Primavera

I usually prefer to follow a recipe, however for dinner last night I decided to wing it. How could I go wrong with a fridge full of leftover fresh vegetables and a giant Spaghetti Squash? The outcome was delicious! Unfortunately, I do not have a picture since our camera was out of batteries…


½ yellow squash, cubed
½ zucchini, cubed
¼ eggplant, cubed
1 chicken breast, cubed
1 spaghetti squash, halved and baked (see below)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp oregano, thyme, sage, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup tomato sauce
splash of red wine
salt and pepper

Spaghetti Squash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut squash in half. Discard seeds. Place squash cut-side-down on non-stick baking sheet. Bake for approx. 40 minutes or until tender.


Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add garlic and onion. Cook for approx. 2 minutes on medium heat. Add chicken and continue to cook for approx. 5 minutes. Stir in yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant. Add tomato sauce and splash of red wine and continue to stir. Add herbs and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for approx. 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through.

Gently spoon the spaghetti squash onto plates. The squash should come out of the shell easily with a fork and resemble long strands of spaghetti (hence the name). Spoon primavera mixture on top of the squash. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve with warm crusty bread and red wine (merlot)!

Serves 2 (+ leftovers)

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