November 20, 2014

Do you have a few dishes you make only once or twice a year for the holidays? When it comes to some of the “traditional” holiday fare, I am quite content to only partake on a rare occasion like Thanksgiving or Christmas. But there happens to be one particular item I have turned into somewhat of a Thanksgiving tradition over the past few years (with a few tweaks that have occurred): a Spinach, Artichoke, Brie, and Sundried Tomato Stuffing.

Spinach, Artichoke, Brie, & Sundried Tomato Stuffing

The first time I created a version of this stuffing was back in 2010. It appeared here on the blog in early 2011…in my very primitive photo skill stage. It’s one of those recipes it is fun to look back on and compare how far I’ve come with that particular skill. Always improving…always improving. And I feel that way about the entire site itself, not just the photos. There may or may not be some new adjustments coming. Be prepared to see a facelift appear in the near future…as long as I get the courage to pull the trigger and take the time to set things up from scratch. Eeek.

Spinach, Artichoke, Brie, and Sundried Tomato Stuffing

Annnnnyway, I decided it was time to tweak this stuffing recipe around – adding sundried tomatoes to it this time around. I’m so glad I did; they added an extra bit of tang and a new texture. Between the spinach, the artichokes, and the sundried tomatoes, it’s practically healthy for you to eat it, right? Ok, I’m dreaming a bit on that front, but it IS better than only having bread involved!

Spinach, Artichoke, Brie, and Sundried Tomato Stuffing

This particular recipe yields a pretty large batch, so it’s likely you’ll have leftovers unless you have a large group available to partake in this creation. For me, that is pretty great. Not only do I enjoy leftovers, but there is a breakfast option involved that I am going to be sharing with you on Sunday, so you’re going to want to check back in to see what that is…hint hint!

Spinach, Artichoke, Brie, and Sundried Tomato Stuffing

In the meantime, make a big batch of this yummy stuffing and dig in to a big plate of it. Trust me: you won’t regret it. The fact that I’ve made it year after year has to mean something, right?

Spinach, Artichoke, Brie, and Sundried Tomato Stuffing

Spinach, Artichoke, Brie, and Sundried Tomato Stuffing
 
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Spinach, Artichoke, Brie, and Sundried Tomato Stuffing isn't your average Thanksgiving side dish. It's so yummy might even be tempted to eat it on it's own as a main course!
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 1 9x13 inch pan
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2½ pounds frozen spinach, (3 frozen packages cooked and drained)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (about 1 large onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • 1¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cans (8½ ounce) quartered artichoke hearts, any tough outer leaves removed
  • 3 ounces sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups fat free half and half (or regular half and half or heavy cream)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (I use low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 12 to 14 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old French bread (about 2 loaves)
  • ½ pound Brie, rind removed and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Steam the frozen spinach in a microwave-safe container. Let cool. Once cool, squeeze as much water from spinach as possible, then roughly chop and reserve.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the artichokes and sundried tomatoes and cook, stirring, another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.
  4. Combine the eggs, half and half, vegetable broth, lemon juice, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the bread, spinach, artichoke mixture, brie, ¼ cup Parmesan, and parsley and stir to combine. If bread does not absorb all of liquid immediately then let rest until this happens, about 20 minutes.
  5. Pour the bread pudding mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup Parmesan over the top and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until firm in the center and golden brown, about 1 hour. Serve warm.

 

November 19, 2014

It isn’t Thanksgiving/the holiday meal season without mashed potatoes: am I right? I’m not sure why it goes this way in my house, but for some reason mashed potatoes seem to be reserved only for large holiday meals. I don’t tend to make them throughout the year or on a regular basis. I might have to figure out how to get them into my routine on a more frequent schedule…especially if they are these Goat Cheese and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes.

Goat Cheese and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

I’ll be honest: as awesome as buttery, heavy cream filled mashed potatoes are, I kind of prefer a version with cheese. And when it comes to smooth versus chunky mashed potatoes, I lean on the side of having some chunks involved. And if skin from the potatoes can be included, even better! All of those elements have come together with these bad boys. They’ve got a bit of chunk involved (unless you really want to make them smooth; that’s your prerogative), goat cheese, Neufchatel cheese, and fresh rosemary. Herby, savory, tangy…heck yes.

Goat Cheese and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

I’ve also been trying to figure out what to do about the gravy situation when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas (or any holiday dinners, really). Ah, the plight of the vegetarian.

Goat Cheese and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

I have been scouring books and the Internet for a good recipe to make for myself that does not include animal products, and I have yet to perfect one. I am getting close, but another batch or two might have to be in the works before I’m ready to share. In the meantime, I did try Veganosity’s porcini mushroom gravy recipe, which is what you see pictured in this post. The results were pretty tasty, and Justin appreciated the fact that the mushrooms that were strained out from the gravy also became a side dish/garnish for the rest of the meal. His favorite!

Goat Cheese and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

I can’t believe that the end of the year is only a few weeks away. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were starting 2014? I suppose it hasn’t felt quite like the end of the year until yesterday, since our Florida temperatures were still quite high. But I tell you, yesterday we experienced quite a cold snap, and the Thanksgiving/Christmas season definitely felt like it was upon me. I even started thinking about how soon I could start unpacking/setting up our Christmas tree. It’s probably bad if I put it up before Thanksgiving, right? Part of me wants to just throw caution to the wind and break out the tree a little early. This year is going to be quite interesting when it comes to the tree – it is our first Christmas with Sherman in the house…and I have a feeling he might attempt to eat the tree and the ornaments. And the tree skirt. And any presents that might get placed underneath the tree. It’s time to take bets on how long it takes him to destroy at least one of those things. Anyone want to put in their guesses?

In the meantime, I’m just going to curl up with a big bowl of these mashed potatoes and not worry about it so much. I might have to partake in some of my favorite stuffing as well. Oh, you noticed that, did you? Don’t worry, the recipe is coming this week as well.

So tell me – are you team smooth or team chunky when it comes to your mashed potatoes? Butter or cheese?

Goat Cheese and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

Goat Cheese and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes
 
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Herby, savory, and tangy - these goat cheese and rosemary mashed potatoes are a great side dish addition to your meal!
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds petite potatoes (small reds, honey gold, or fingerling)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 ounce Neufchatel cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes in a large stock pot filled with water. Bring the pot to a boil and allow the potatoes to simmer until fork tender. Remove from heat and drain.
  2. Use a potato ricer to process the cooked potatoes into the warm pot you just drained them from. Alternately, you can add the potatoes back into the pot and use a potato masher instead. Add the rosemary, goat cheese, Neufchatel cheese, and salt and pepper, then stir until fully combined.
  3. Serve, and enjoy!

 

November 18, 2014

Do you ever find yourself just a wee bit obsessed with a particular recipe or method of cooking? I have a confession to make: as soon as I created my Acorn Squash Cheese Spread with Spinach and Artichokes a short time ago, I was hooked. Oh so very hooked. As much as I adore that recipe, the fact of the matter is that creating it in those perfect and beautiful acorn squash cups is not something I want to do for a crowd of people. Enter: an individual cheesy squash fondue.

individual cheesy squash fondue

You’re still going to get those same cheesy, comforting, wonderful flavors from the original recipe, but with these individual portions, you’re set to feed a dinner party…or have some leftovers to pop in the oven for yourself the next day. Hey – I’m just being honest. And it’s totally ok if you do that…because I sure did.

individual cheesy squash fondue

One of my biggest downfalls when it comes to appetizers is a spinach and artichoke dip, so I am glad to now have a version that is indulgent…but has the added benefit of the squash involved in the recipe. I like how the squash adds an extra bit of thick and creamy texture so I don’t have to fully load my appetizer with cream cheese and other heavy dairy. Of course, there is still fat free half and half, a touch of Neufchatel cheese, and a healthy dose of Gruyere…but hey, it could be worse! You could take this to the next level of indulgence and substitute heavy cream for the half and half – I imagine that would have some very rich and tasty results. And if you would rather go for regular cream cheese in place of the Neufchatel, that will also work! Options – you have them!

individual cheesy squash fondue

And speaking of options…if you don’t want these to be individual in size, you could bake all of these ingredients in a larger casserole dish (a 9×9 inch would probably be the best size). It would be great for a party atmosphere or get together as well. In fact, I did happen to serve it that way at a family meal this past week and it went over very well!

individual cheesy squash fondue

I paired this particular dish with one of our newest go-to red wine blends: the Kitchen Sink Red Reserve. It is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, and Petite Sirah from California, and it is a crowd pleaser that only costs about $10.99. Score! So – will you be whipping up a batch of fondue and uncorking a bottle in the near future? I sure hope so…

Individual Cheesy Squash Fondue
 
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This individual portion of cheesy squash fondue makes for a fabulous appetizer at your next meal. You might even want to have a large portion as your entire meal paired with a salad!
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 10 ounces frozen cubed butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
  • 7 ounces canned artichoke heats, drained and chopped
  • 2 ounces Neufchatel cheese
  • 1 cup fat free half and half
  • 2 cups Gruyere cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh baguette, sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Distribute the cubed butternut squash in the bottom of 6-8 small ramekins and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. Next, melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the spinach leaves and allow them to wilt for about 2 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts and saute for an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the Neufchatel cheese and the half and half. Add in the spinach and artichoke mixture and stir until incorporated. Ladle this mixture evenly into the ramekins.
  5. Add the freshly grated Gruyere cheese to the top of each ramekin.
  6. Place the ramekins on a large baking sheet, cover lightly with a piece of aluminum foil, and place in the oven to bake for one hour. If you'd like your baguette to be warm, place it in the oven wrapped in aluminum foil in the last few minutes of baking.
  7. Finally, remove the aluminum foil from the top of the baking pan (and remove the bread if it is being warmed), turn the broiler to high, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until cheese is golden brown and bubbling.
  8. Remove from oven and carefully place the ramekins on serving plates alongside baguette. Allow to rest for about 3-4 minutes before serving (so you won't burn yourself!). Dip, spread, and enjoy!

 

November 17, 2014

It’s been a little while since I purchased a nail polish. To be honest, I think my collection built itself up quite a bit and I just needed a bit of a break. I was going strong with my summer nail colors for quite some time, but now that we are firmly in the middle of November, I feel as though it is time to break out some of the darker nail polishes. When I saw the new offerings for my Julep Maven account for November, I knew that the Julep nail polish in Sawyer had to be mine (as well as Joanne, the other polish included in the set!

Julep Nail Polish - Sawyer and Joanne

Sawyer is a metallic chrome polish with a copper hue. I like that the copper is quite subtle; it reads a bit more brown with hints of copper throughout. I even think there are hints of purple involved. The color looked fabulous on both my hands and toes.

Julep Nail Polish - Sawyer

I have to say I was impressed with the long lasting wear of this particular shade. I painted my nails with a base coat, two coats of Sawyer, and a top coat. It lasted more than a week before any signs of wear began to appear. I actually ended up opting to remove it myself before any chips happened just because I wanted to switch it up and wear a new shade of nail polish. I also happened to get quite a few compliments/inquiries on what shade/brand of polish I was wearing, so I always take that as a positive. I can’t wait to wear this shade again. I think I’ll be seeing a lot of it on my hands throughout this winter season.

In case you aren’t familiar with Julep Maven, it is a monthly subscription program for nail polish, and more recently they added beauty products as well. Each month features a new collection of polishes, and you can select the style that fits you best. This November, my subscription box contained these two nail polishes, as well as a volumizing mascara. You’re allowed to skip a month (or as many as you like) and you won’t be charged, so that is always a plus!

Have you transitioned to fall and winter colors for your nail polish? Any favorite colors/brands?