Three Cheese Macaroni

Comfort Food: Lasagna

BBQ Grilled Cheese

Pork Sandwiches

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

In our house, Halloween means more than spooky tricks and cute kids coming to the door saying "trick-or-treat!".  Today was originally the date of our wedding. We're happy now, knowing that the weather would have been really crappy and everyone would be in a bad mood because it's almost impossible to do field work at this point. Today, last year, was the day Lucas proposed to me. It was in the beef barn at the University of Minnesota - St. Paul campus - pomping away at the AGR float talking to my friend Melissa about how excited I was for her engagement. Little did I know, everyone knew I would be getting proposed to that night... except me. I absolutely love Halloween - so it's a special treat. No, we didn't go out this year and dress up as anyone crazy, but we did our own thing - and had a blast with it. 
I found a bunch of recipes that included pumpkin or seemed 'fall-like' and Lucas carved the pumpkin. As strong supporters of the dairy industry, we decided to hand out string cheese instead of candy. I tried this once during college with my friend Lana and we had a lot of kids decline the cheese. [how sad!] This time around, we only had one kid decline and many kids say "yes! I love string cheese!" It was great.  We had 124 kids stop at our door - with one piece of string cheese left for Lucas and I to share. The movie Halloween H20 - 20 Years Later, was showing on cable, so we got ourselves a drink and enjoyed Halloween - our own special way.  The best news is - I get to be in bed at a decent time - on daylight savings night!  
Below are the recipes I used for our Halloween dinner. The gnocci wasn't that great, but the bread pudding was AWESOME! The photos of the menu were taken by yours truly. Feel free to search for the actual recipe online to see the 'real' picture. Until next year... Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Serves 6.
Unsalted butter, room temperature, for ramekins
6 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup bourbon
1/3 cup hot water
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of salt
One 12-ounce, day-old loaf brioche or challah bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter six 10-ounce ramekins or custard cups, and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and set aside on a baking sheet. [I used a casserole dish instead of individual cups - works great!] Place raisins in a small bowl, and cover with bourbon, if using, and the hot water; let soak until plump, about 20 minutes. Drain; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, granulated sugar, milk, vanilla, spices, and salt. Toss in the bread cubes, and stir gently to evenly coat; let stand a few minutes. Fold in the raisins. Divide among prepared dishes, pressing down slightly to make level.
Bake until custard is set in the center and top is golden, about 40 minutes. If bread browns too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Remove from oven; let cool slightly. To serve, un-mold onto plates; dust with confectioners' sugar.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Mushrooms

Serves 4.
1 small sugar pumpkin (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), stem removed, halved lengthwise, and seeded
2 cups of flour, plus more for work surface
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for serving
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
20 medium chanterelle mushrooms, trimmed
8 fresh sage leaves
1 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pumpkin halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet and fill each with 1 tablespoon water. Cover each half with parchment paper-lined aluminum foil. Transfer to oven and roast until soft, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Scrape pumpkin flesh from skin; discard skin.
  2. Mound flour in center of a large work surface; add 1 tablespoon salt and the nutmeg. Using a fork, mix until well combined. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add 2 cups pumpkin and 1 cup grated cheese to well. Slowly incorporate flour, beginning with inner rim of well. When flour is incorporated, gather dough together to form a rounded mass; knead mixture until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter; cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces. Transfer gnocchi to a baking sheet and cover with a clean, damp towel. Repeat process until all the dough has been used.
  4. Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Generously salt water and return to a boil. Add gnocchi and cook until they rise to the top, about 4 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat and add butter and shallots. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until shallots are golden. Add mushrooms and sage; cook, stirring, for about 10 seconds. Add 1/4 cup pumpkin, chicken stock, heavy cream, and 1/4 cup grated cheese; cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to skillet and toss to combine. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan and nutmeg.
  7. P.S. I had pre-made gnocci, which is maybe why it didn't taste as good. Just an FYI.
Artichoke Triangles
From Betty Crocker

Photo from website.
1 can (14 to 16 oz) artichoke hearts, well drained and chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese (1 oz)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 package (17.3 oz) frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 tablespoons half-and-half

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line large cookie sheet with foil or cooking parchment paper; lightly spray foil or paper with cooking spray. In medium bowl, mix all ingredients except pastry and half-and-half.

2. On lightly floured surface, roll 1 sheet of pastry into 12x9-inch rectangle, trimming edges if necessary. Cut into twelve 3-inch squares.

3. Place 1 tablespoon artichoke mixture on each square. Lightly brush edges with half-and-half. Fold pastry over filling to make triangles. Crimp edges with fork to seal. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry and artichoke mixture. Brush tops of triangles with half-and-half. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Eat well - Be happy. 


Lana said...

MMMM. I make something like this except with crescent rolls, and it's braided and brushed with an egg wash. I also add some pimentos for color and flavor!

November 9, 2009 at 2:53 PM

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