Thanksgiving Leftovers & Skillet Asparagus

Happy Monday!!!

The biggest dinner of the year has come and gone.  Well, not completely gone.  We had a ton of leftovers that we are still working on. Thanksgiving dinner ended up being a small affair at our house (just me and Mr. Foodie to be exact) although I made enough food to feed about 20 folks.  A couple of friends did come over for dessert to help put a dent in some of the sweets (red velvet cake, sweet potato pie and sweet potato cheesecake *recipe coming soon).

Mr. Foodie joked with me that I was cooking like I had a catering event.  I couldn't quite help myself though.  I just got all excited and kept thinking about all the food I was supposed to eat on Thanksgiving and being very determined to have it despite my mother not being there.

On the menu:
Honeybaked Ham and Turkey (I have been addicted to honeybaked ham since I was a kid and certainly was not ready to cook a whole bird.  I never eat the turkey anyway)
Cornbread Dressing
Collard Greens (my mom sent them via fed-ex because there is nothing like her greens...I mean nothing)
Cream Style Corn
Two kinds of Mac and Cheese, traditional and three cheese with mushrooms and truffle oil
Mashed Potatoes
Skillet Asparagus

That's what my first plate looked like. And I'm not ashamed to say there were a few variations like this for the rest of the day. In fact the entire weekend.  There were a couple of things that were missing, like the sweet potato casserole and string beans.  But I just ran out of time.  Mr. Foodie and I were HUNGRY.  So I'm sure they will appear on the meal plan this coming week. All in all, I was pretty delighted with how the day turned out.  I have to pat myself on the back and say the food was spectacular, which I guess is one reason I'm not tired of leftovers yet.

One unlikely addition to our Thanksgiving dinner that I wanted to share with you quickly was asparagus. 

In planning the menu, I realized I needed more veggies to offset all the starches. Since we are fans of asparagus, I decided to try this recipe from famed chefs and cookbook authors Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock.  This was a quick and delicious recipe that left the asparagus crisp and bright green in color.  I usually steam asparagus and then add flavor (butter and salt) after they're cooked. But this method allows the asparagus to become infused with flavor during the cooking process. Sooo good. If you're looking for a simple side dish, please give this a try.  This is now going to be my default method for cooking asparagus.  

Skillet Asparagus (serves 2-3)
Printable Recipe

1 lb asparagus
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the asapargus in cold water and trim off the tough ends (1 1/2-2 inch). Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed skillet with a tight fitting lid.  As the butter becomes hot and starts to foam, place the asapargus in the skillet.  Shake the skillet from side to side to coat the asparagus in the butter.  Cover tightly and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.  Check the asparagus and turn them as needed to make sure the asparagus is cooked evenly and doesn't burn.  Cook approximately 3 minutes longer, until the asparagus are tender and bright green.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.   Serve hot.

adapted from The Gift of Southern Cooking


Pasta with Butternut Squash and Parmesan Cheese Sauce

I'm going to sneak one more meal in here before the Thanksgiving holiday.  This meal is perfect for vegetarians and since it involves butternut squash, you could easily serve it on Thanksgiving for those relatives who are.

I went to the farmers market a couple of weeks ago with a strict shopping list.  Butternut squash was not on that list but when I saw it I just couldn't resist.  I'm such a sucker for food.  So when I saw this over at simplyrecipes.com, I read through the recipe and was convinced it sounded like a keeper. Plus I could kill two birds with one stone, get over my guilt of buying the squash with no real plan to use it and I could add it to my ever growing collection of meals using butternut squash.

I was way excited.  But when I explained to Mr. Foodie what we were having for dinner, his vision was not as great mine. Lucky for me, the kitchen is my domain and he is forced to trust my lead (insert evil laugh, muwahahaha!!!). And just as our fate tends to happen, he and I were both pleasantly surprised, although I of course already knew we would be. If you are a fan of butternut squash, this dish is for you.

In case you aren't though, let me reel you in. This dish was extremely simple.  I loved that I just had to roast the squash and not peel it, which can sometimes be a chore in of itself. Envision the sauce as a replacement for the common tomato sauce with your pasta.  You can leave the squash somewhat chunky if you like (I had few chunks opting to smooth my squash out by almost pureeing it) or thin in out by adding more cream.  It is a rich sauce that has such a depth of flavor that it makes you feel all fuzzy inside.  As I was eating it I felt like fall, with the warm notes of nutmeg added and the pop of freshness from the parsley. And did I mention the Parmesan cheese added.  I mean, it's slightly cheesey. No not me...the dish. How could you not love that? YUMMY!!

Pasta w/ Butternut Squash and Parmesan Cheese Sauce
Printable Recipe
serve 4

1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds
8 oz. pasta (I used penne but you can use bowtie, rotini, etc.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup minced shallots
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (I used regular cream because that's what I had and it worked fine)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 handful of chopped parsley
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half, lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds and guts and discard them.  Fill a baking dish with 1/4 cup water and lay the squash in the baking dish, cut side down.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the squash could be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Scoop out the meat of the squash from the skins and place in a separate medium bowl.  Using a hand mixer, or a blender, puree the squash to your desired consistency.  Discard the skins.

Fill a pot with salted water and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, approximately 8-10 minutes, uncovered.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots until translucent, approximately 5 minutes.  Add the butternut squash puree and cook for 1 minute, mixing it in with the shallots. Slowly add the cream into the mixture to avoid lumps.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese.  Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat and add the parsley and lemon juice and stir to combine.  Cover the pan to keep warm until the pasta is done.

When the pasta is done, drain in a colander and plate.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and garnish with additional parsley or cheese.  Serve immediately and Enjoy.

adapted from simplyrecipes. com


Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie

So....I jumped on the bandwagon and have decided to bring you along.

The Lee Bros., known for their southern recipes, have come out with a new cookbook, just in time for Christmas, hint hint Mr. Foodie, and they have been everywhere.  They were featured on the Today show a few weeks ago and made a pimento cheese potato gratin.  Although I've never been a huge fan of pimento cheese, I proceeded to watch them prepare the dish anyway.  The finished product looked appetizing and Matt (my secret journalist crush) loved it.  So I promptly went to the website to print the recipe but was immediately side tracked by their recipe for a Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie.  I told you before, I am a sucker for anything sweet potato.  And it's that time of year when sweet potato pies start popping up all over my house.  I love how I say that like I don't know where they are coming from...they just magically appear. 

Well, that same day, before I could even print out the recipe, Rebecca from ezrapoundcake, wrote a post about that same exact pie.  Her picture of the pie was heavenly.  The pie looked light and airy but rich and creamy at the same time.  I literally wanted to eat it right off my computer screen.  Then Deb from smittenkitchen wrote about the same pie this week.  I was determined to test it for Thanksgiving myself.

Now I'm going to be very honest with you right now.  We're friends, remember, so no minimal judgment. I was in a lazy frame of mind when I made this pie and didn't puree the sweet potatoes.  Instead, I just mashed them with a potato masher.  And they were cold when I did that *hanging my head in shame*  It really was the harder route of the two but once I started with the masher, I was too lazy to switch to my electric mixer. And in case you're wondering why the full disclosure, you'll see in the pic below.

My pie did not turn out so smooth looking. See! There were small bits of sweet potato chunks throughout.

But...it wasn't all bad. It was still very edible and darn good.  Now I'm warning you, this is not your typical sweet potato pie.  It is not overly sweet (only 1/2 cup of sugar) and much tangier than typical versions, thanks to the addition of buttermilk and lemon juice.  The taste definitely grew on me and it was perfect with a little cool whip on top with a sprinkling of nutmeg.

I envision two versions of sweet potato pie on our dessert table this year. The standard one and this one. I just vow not to be lazy next time. For presentation sake of course.

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie
Printable Recipe

1 9 inch pie crust, prebaked
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (approximately 2 potatoes)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, seperated
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
Garnish : whipped cream, nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the sweet potatoes for 30-40 minutes, until fork tender.  Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle, approximately 15 min.  When potatoes are cooled, cut them open and remove the filling to a bowl.  Using an electric mixer, puree the sweet potatoes until you get a smooth consistency.

Reduce oven to 375 degrees

Place 1 1/4 cup of sweet potato puree into another medium bowl. Save excess for another recipe. Add the butter, lemon juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt to the bowl, mixing after each addition

In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs yolks.  Add the sugar and mix until lemon yellow color, 1-2 minutes. Add the egg mixture to the sweet potato mixture and stir until incorporated and the mixture is a bright orange color. Add the flour gradually, mixing after each addition. Add  the buttermilk and stir until it has been incorporated

In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites, using your electric mixer, until soft peeks form, 1-2 minutes. Using a spatula, fold the egg whites into the sweet potato-buttermilk mixture. Stir until fully combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and bake in the middle rack until the filling has set, 35-40 minutes.

Remove the pie from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.  Serve at room temperature or cold with a whipped cream and nutmeg.

adapted from ezrapoundcake, originally from lee bros southern cookbook


A One Pot Meal (Red Chile Chicken, Black Beans & Rice)

I know Thanksgiving is fast approaching and many of you are preparing your menu (or your belly) for one of the most anticipated dinners of the year.

But it's not Thanksgiving just yet.  You still have a week of "regular" dinners to make.

 And this one pot meal might just tide you over for a couple of days. Mr. Foodie informed me that one pot meals are "man meals". *blank stare*...If you say so dear (smh).  I, on the other hand, love the ease of one pot meals, not only because I get a sample of everything on my plate in one bite, but because I only have one pot to wash when it's all said and done.  No pots and pans piled up in my sink.  It's the little things.  Really!

This dish is simple, quick and delicious.  It's one of those weeknight meals that don't require much prep work and the portions in the recipe will leave you with plenty leftover for lunch, or another dinner, the next day.  Cooking the rice in the pan with the onions before adding the broth gives the rice a toasty, deeper flavor in the end.  And don't worry about the amount of chile powder the recipe calls for.  This dish is not too spicy.  I added a chipotle salsa on top but you can finish the dish with any one of your favorite salsas.  This will add another dimension of flavor and this is where you can definitely crank up the level of heat.

This time, you don't have to just take mine and Mr. Foodie's word on this dish.  It has been made a few times in the food blog-sphere. I first found this recipe at ellysaysopa (who got the recipe from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless) and then over at annieseats and it's gotten rave reviews. So go ahead and sneak this into the meal plan before turkey day.  Or make sure to bookmark it to try in a couple of weeks. You will enjoy it.

Red Chile Chicken, Black Beans and Rice
Printable Recipe

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (approximately 3 breasts prepackaged)
3 tablespoons ancho chile powder, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup rice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts
your favorite salsa, for serving

In a large pot, preferably with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. As the oil is heating, season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the chile powder. Place the chicken in the oil and brown on both sides for approximately 2-3 minutes each side. Removed the chicken to another plate, leaving oil in the pan. (the chicken may not be cooked through all the way but will finish cooking when it is returned to the pan)

Add the onion and rice to the pan.  Stir for a few minutes until the rice becomes translucent.  Add the minced garlic and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons chile powder.  Cook all together for one minute and then add the chicken broth and a little salt to taste. Stir well.  When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer form 10 minutes.

While the mixture is simmering, cut the chicken pieces into 1 inch pieces. As you cut them, add the chicken pieces to the pot, along with the beans.  Cover again and cook for an additional 12-15 minutes, until all the chicken is cooked through and the rice is done.

Sprinkle in the green onions and test the rice to your desired doneness. If rice is done, remove from heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes. If the rice is not done, continue cooking for 5 minutes.  Fluff the mixture with a fork and serve with salsa for each serving.

adapted from ellysaysopa.com


Spaghetti with Tomato Braised Kale

I'll be the first to admit it.  When I saw this recipe on seriouseats.com, it sounded...well....different. Different in a weird but intriguing sort of way. The recipe sounded simple enough. It was a good picture...which quickly sparked my interest.

See! Not so bad looking.  Plus it was full of kale. After reading its many health benefits (full of vitamins A, C and K, great source of iron, fiber and low on cholesterol) I was searching for ways to incorporate this uber nutritious veggie into our diet.  And it's that time of year when hearty meals are just what one craves on these chilly nights.  So to combine the comfort feeling you get with a bowl of pasta while it still being nutritious and not overly carb inducing, I thought this dish would work perfectly.

This dish has a very light sauce unlike most spaghetti's.  The recipe calls for tomato puree, which I did not have.  I thought I did until I got home from the store and actual looked in my very full pantry...to no avail.  But I did have a can of tomato sauce and tomato paste.  So I improvised and combined the two, trying to achieve the flavor balance you get with tomato puree. It worked out perfectly.  I was hesitant about using the stems from the kale but they soften quite a bit and added a nice bite to the finished meal.  The kale leaves thinly sliced in ribbons blends well with the spaghetti noodles.  And...I was a rebel and used pancetta as the recipe calls for.  Mr. Foodie was aware and survived.  Sometimes I just want to flavor you get from pork.

All in all, I give this dish a two thumbs up and will definitely make it again. Of course Mr. Foodie thought it was "different" at first but liked it the more he ate it. It was flavorful, healthy and made multiple servings (great leftovers for lunch).  So go ahead. Be adventurous. And if you decide to try it, I'd love to know what you think.

Spaghetti with Tomato Braised Kale
Printable Recipe
serves 6

2 oz think sliced pancetta, diced (can use 2 tablespoons of olive oil if you don't want to use meat)
1 onion, diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes, minced
1 bunch kale, stems removes and sliced thin, leaves sliced into thin ribbons (lay the leaves on top of one another, roll them and then slice them crosswise)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
10 oz. tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste (or you can use 2 cups tomato puree instead of the sauce and paste)
10 oz. dried spaghetti (I used whole wheat pasta because that is what I had in the pantry)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

In a large saute pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat.  Cook until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is crisp, approximately 10 minutes.  Add the onions, kale stems, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes and salt to the saute pan.  Cook together, stirring often until the onions and kale stems begin to soften, approximately 10 minutes more. Add the garlic and kale leaves and stir constantly until the leaves begin to wilt and the garlic is fragrant, 2 minutes.

Add the white wine and stir, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of  the pan.  Add the tomato sauce and paste (or puree) and bring to a boil.  Then turn the heat down to simmer and let cook partially covered for about 20 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the spaghetti and boil for a little more than half the recommended cooking time as suggested on the package. Using tongs, transfer the pasta into the kale and tomato sauce, along with 1 cup of pasta water.  Add the cheese and stir to combine. Cover and simmer until the pasta is finished cooking, about 10 minutes. 

Top with additional cheese and serve.

adapted from seriouseats.com


Healthy Black Bean Burger

There are times when I just crave a good, juicy, beef cheeseburger, a la Fatburger (the L.A original though, the franchises here in Atlanta don't seem to have the same pizazz).

But this was not one of those times.

Although I would have to say that burger up there looks hearty and cheesey like those cheeseburgers I crave, it is hardly a beef burger.  Your eyes haven't fooled you (although the title of the post is a dead give away).  That patty is full of black beans, mushrooms and cheese.  A healthy...yet very satisfying alternative.  And a great vegetarian (or vegan if you use soy cheese) option for those who don't eat meat...i.e Mr. Foodie. I typically make turkey burgers at home but when I saw this burger on the brown eyed baker's blog, I immediately bookmarked the page and knew I had to make these sooner than later. And boy was I happy that I didn't wait.

Now I am not new to the concept of black bean burgers.  Black beans are one of my favorites.  Thinking back, the first black bean burger I had was several years back at Chili's.  I immediately fell into adoration with the thing.  Unlike several of my friends who are fans of the vegetarian burger at Houston's, for me the grainy, chewy texture doesn't ignite my tastebuds.  But here, it's the smooth texture of beans I love and this recipe is so chock full of flavor it's hard not to embrace.  Topped with a little chipotle salsa and another slice of cheese (I can never have too much of that) and I have myself an awesome alternative to that beef or even turkey burger.

Black Bean Burger
Printable Recipe

4 slices of whole wheat sandwich bread, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 15-oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Hamburger buns of choice (I used kaiser rolls and then English muffins for the leftovers. Both worked well)
Sliced cheese (I used provolone) and sour cream for toppings (optional)

Tear the toasted bread into pieces and put in food processor.  Process into crumbs.  Remove to another bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden.  Add the mushrooms, garlic, cumin and paprika to the skillet.  Cook until the mushrooms begin to release their juices, approximately 4-6 minutes more.  Remove from heat to let cool slightly.

When cool, add  the mixture to the food processor or blender, along with the black beans. Pulse until combined, but not smooth. You still want to have some chunks of beans.  Scoop mixture into bowl with bread crumbs.

Add shredded cheese to the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Fold ingredients together and divide into four equal portions (this will make four rather large burger, so you can divide the mixture into smaller portions if you choose). With damp hands, shape each portion into patties.

Heat a skillet with 1 tablespoon canola oil. Place the patties in the skillet and cook until heated through and crisp on the outside, approximately 5 minutes on each side.

Serve burgers on bread of choice. Top with salsa to serve, if desired.

adapted from browneyedbaker.com originally from culinary in the country