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 11, 2014

With holidays, sometimes a learning process has to be involved. In 2013, it was our very first year in our house during Halloween. I was excited to finally get some trick-or-treaters at our door. To prepare, I purchased a few bags of candy to have on hand. We didn’t have an overwhelming number of visitors, but there was a somewhat steady stream throughout the evening. This year, I repeated the same process – I filled a big bowl with candy and had it on hand by our door. And we got three…yes…three trick-or-treaters. Not three separate visits. Three kids total. So as you can imagine, I now have an insanely huge amount of leftover candy. So what should a girl do? Make leftover Halloween candy cookies, that’s what!

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies

They aren’t anything fancy – I took my classic chocolate chip cookie dough recipe and instead of adding chocolate chips, I chopped up Crunch bars and Baby Ruth candy bars to serve as the chips instead. But oh boy, do I love how they transformed what is your everyday chocolate chip cookie and made it something different than what I’m used to. I like both varieties, but I have to say I think the Baby Ruth version is my favorite. When the candy bar pieces melt down as the dough bakes, it creates a chewy, delicious bite.

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies

I definitely needed some sweets on hand this past week. I usually don’t have a lot in the house, but I admit that I was glad to have them in reach these past few days. Last Monday, I was brushing the dogs’ teeth and realized that my poor Lucia had cracked yet another tooth. This one was a front tooth (the previous two she had to have removed a few months ago were back teeth). I have no idea how it happened, and I felt terrible that it probably took me a few days to realize what happened. Of course, a trip to the vet ensued on Tuesday, and on Wednesday I had to bring her back in to have it removed. Poor girl! So, I wasn’t feeling too happy with myself about that; the guilt was making me feel kind of cruddy. And on top of it I was just having one of those weeks when nothing I did seemed to go right! I couldn’t get on top of things; laundry piled up, emails stockpiled, and I was feeling pretty run down in general. Oh cookies – how I needed you!

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies

The funny thing is, even though I made a regular sized batch of these leftover Halloween candy cookies, there is still a HUGE bowl full of candies left. Perhaps another batch is necessary? Perhaps, perhaps. I mean…I need to make my way through that candy bowl, right???

Have you been baking with your Halloween leftovers?

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies
 
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Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 20-30 mini candy bars (amount depends on bar size! Mix in to taste), chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Add the butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and almond extract in a large bowl and beat with a mixer until creamed.
  3. Continue beating as you add the eggs one at a time, until they are fully incorporated. Gradually add scoops of the flour mixture until it is fully mixed in and a dough has formed.
  4. Use a spatula to fold in the chopped pieces of candy bar. If you would like to make separate types of cookies with different candy bars, divide the dough before folding in the pieces.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then scoop rounded tablespoon sized balls of dough onto the sheet.
  6. Bake for 9-11 minutes until cookies are golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest for 2-3 minutes. Then, place cookies on a wire rack to completely cool. Enjoy!

November 9, 2014

Fall is the ultimate time of the year for comfort food: am I right? The cooler temperatures always have me craving them, as well as the various holiday get-togethers with family and friends. This week, the Sunday Supper family is teaming up with Gallo Family Vineyards for a comfort food filled event, and I’m bringing some Acorn Squash Cheese Spread with Spinach and Artichokes to the table.

Acorn Squash Cheese Spread with Spinach and Artichokes

There is something oh so comforting about cheese. I can’t live without it. Melty, gooey, creamy cheese is one of those food items that I live for and always ends up finding its way into my favorite dishes. Of course, cheese happens to be an essential element of my recipe today. I’ve combined the comforting embrace of dairy goodness with a favorite fall squash. With spinach and artichokes added into the mix, the end result is a creamy, luscious mixture that is perfect to spread all over a slice of crusty baguette. Or two. Or three. It’s a fabulous appetizer option, but if you wanted to keep this dish all to yourself, serving it for dinner alongside a fresh salad as a main course is another alternative to consider.

Acorn Squash Cheese Spread with Spinach and Artichokes

Of course, you absolutely have to pair this Acorn Squash Cheese Spread with a glass of wine. The Gallo Family Cabernet Sauvignon would be a great complement to this dish. It is a full bodied wine with the flavors of blackberries and black currants. It is smooth and pairs well with bold cheeses, which I think make it a great partner for this cheese spread. However, if you are looking for a wine on the lighter side of things, the Gallo Family Pinot Grigio is another selection to consider; it features crisp flavors of fresh green apple, white peach and citrus!

Acorn Squash Cheese Spread with Spinach and Artichokes

Acorn Squash Cheese Spread with Spinach and Artichokes

Aside from comforting dishes, the holiday season is also a time to give back. Gallo Family Vineyards believes that no one should go hungry, so they have partnered with the Meals On Wheels Association of America for the Every Cork Counts campaign. From now until December 31, 2014, Gallo Family Vineyards is helping feed families by donating $1 to the Meals On Wheels Association of America for every one of their wine corks that you send them or submit as a photo electronically (up to $50,000). Giving back is easy, so why not get involved? I know I’ll be rounding up all of my Gallo wine corks!

Gallo wine corks

Acorn Squash Cheese Spread with Spinach and Artichokes

Acorn Squash Cheese Spread with Spinach and Artichokes
 
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Ingredients
  • 2 acorn squash
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
  • 7 ounces canned artichoke heats, drained
  • 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. Line a deep roasting/baking pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Slice the acorn squash in half crosswise (one half is the top of the squash with the stem, the other is the bottom half, making four small bowl shapes). Use a spoon to remove the seeds. Slice a small piece off the bottom of the squash pieces so they can sit upright in the pan without falling over.
  3. Place the squash in the roasting pan and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 into the squash halves, about ¾ of the way up.
  6. Add the freshly grated Gruyere cheese to the top of each squash half.
  7. Cover the roasting pan with a sheet of aluminum foil and place in the oven to bake for one hour, until squash becomes tender. 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.
  8. Finally, remove the aluminum foil from the top of the roasting 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.
  9. Remove from oven and carefully place the squash halves in bowls or serving plates alongside baguette. Dip, spread, and enjoy!
If you are searching for Gallo Family Vineyards’ wine near you, check out their store locator. You can even download a $1 off digital coupon for your next purchase!

 

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Make sure you check out Gallo Family Vineyards’ website, like them on Facebook, start a conversation with them on Twitter, see their photos on Instagram, and watch them on YouTube!

Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.

And of course, make sure you check out all of the fabulous and comforting recipes from the Sunday Supper family today!

Comforting Appetizers and Beverages:

Comforting Entrees, Soups, and Stews:

Comforting Side Dishes:

Comforting Brunch, Desserts, and Sweets:

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November 4, 2014

Bring on the lighter holiday fare! On Sunday, I shared a recipe for fresh and easy honey ginger glazed carrots. They’re a super easy side dish for the holidays…or any time of the year really! Today, I have another option to accompany them: Green Beans with Bell Pepper and Almonds.

Green Beans with Bell Pepper and Almonds

When you look at the ingredient list for this recipe you might think: for the holidays? But…these green beans have teriyaki sauce involved…that’s not for Thanksgiving or Christmas! Well, I’m here to tell you that this side dish definitely has a place at my holiday table. Especially as a vegetarian – I want as many fresh and flavorful vegetable options as possible on my plate! As much as everyone loves the classics: a traditional green bean casserole can be oh so heavy and loaded with sodium. Hey – there’s nothing wrong with splurging on it during the holidays if it’s your thing! It’s a personal preference, but I like my green beans to still have crunch and brightness (and squeak!). So, my journey to a new, lighter side dish began.

Green Beans with Bell Pepper and Almonds

Now, there is always the option to create a more traditional green beans amandine with butter and almonds for your holiday table, but I decided to just go for it and play around with some different flavors. Mixing up a light amount of sauce with teriyaki, honey, and a bit of butter creates a fabulous glaze to lightly coat your beans and bell pepper strips. You still get a crunch factor with the almonds added to the mix, and the multiple colors in your serving dish are so pleasant to behold! Come on…tell me you don’t want to dig in to these. You know you do.

Green Beans with Bell Pepper and Almonds

I’m not even kidding when I say I could eat an entire platter filled with these green beans. However, if you happen to have any leftovers, they make for a fantastic lunch the following day. Place them on a bed of rice and you’re good to go!

Are you more traditional when it comes to holiday meals, or do you like to switch it up with different flavors and dishes?

Green Beans with Bell Pepper and Almonds

Green Beans with Bell Pepper and Almonds
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper (or a variety of colors: red, orange, yellow), about 1 cup
  • ½ cup thin sliced onion wedges
  • ¼ cup sliced roasted almonds
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the teriyaki sauce, honey, and butter. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the beans and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until beans are bright green. Drain the beans in a colander and then plunge them into a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Drain again and set aside.
  3. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onion strips and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the green beans, almonds, and the teriyaki and honey mixture and toss gently until coated and the beans are warmed through (about 1-2 minutes).
  4. Place in a serving dish and garnish with additional almonds, if desired. Enjoy!