Friday, November 6, 2009

Good eats!

My kitchen adventures have been yielding some impressive results lately! I love it when that happens--too often I come up with concoctions that only I like and the leftovers sit in the fridge and don't get eaten. Sometimes even I don't like what I come up :) But I get bored so easily, cooking the same thing over and over, so experimentation keeps me interested in, and enjoying, the cooking process--much to Chris's chagrin!

Tuesday night was definitely one of my successes, though: squash and sausage pasta sauce over gnocchi. Chris went back for seconds and Mom wanted to know how I made it--that means it was good!

I had a roasted buttercup squash (from our CSA, I have no clue where to find it otherwise, but acorn, delicata or pumpkin will make good subs) leftover from Halloween--apparently the kids had no room for squash, what with grilled cheese and cocoa in front of them.

I had heard (or read) Rachael Ray talking about using cooked veggies as a pasta sauce--she'd done cauliflower, which I still have yet to try--so I decided that the squash could work as such. Monday afternoon, Danny and I pureed the squash in the food processor, using whole milk and a little bit of chicken broth to thin it to a sauce-like consistency. We added some fresh sage, nutmeg and of course, salt and pepper. Normally, I probably would have just let that be the sauce, but Chris was going to be home and he isn't too fond of my vegetarian meals. So I needed meat.

Alas, the dinner didn't get made Monday night b/c of picking Chuck up at the vet late, and my poor planning--we had Annie's mac and cheese and fish sticks that night, which is probably Chris and the kids' favorite dinner. Why do I bother?!

 And as luck would have it, at the gym Tuesday morning, Rachael Ray was on (apparently she's really influencing my cooking right now!), and making a lasagna from a pumpkin sauce, coupled with Italian sweet sausage. I didn't have Italian sweet sausage at home, but I do have tons and tons and tons of ground beef, so I decided I'd season that with some fennel seed and it would be close enough to sausage. Because, you may have discerned from above, this family doesn't have nearly sensitive enough palates to discern beef from pork. :) So I sauteed up my beef with the seasonings, and then simply dumped my already made squash sauce over the top and let it simmer while I dealt with what went underneath the sauce...

And, b/c I have to make life as hard as possible for myself, I didn't want regular old pasta, either. We'd eaten too much of it lately. Gnocchi, which is an Italian potato pasta, came to mind. Danny was excited to help me out again, and I have to say, it's great having such an enthusiastic little kitchen helper. He's even washing dishes for me now! The gnocchi was super easy to make though, and very kid-helper friendly. Danny was very happy to be eating the "milky", as he called them, that he'd helped to make.

If only he would have been so enthusiastic about the spinach I served on the side!

Here's the finished product, but disclaimer, the picture doesn't do it justice. I think I've found a new respect for all of the cooking blogs out there, with all of their pretty pictures. I have no clue how to make my food look pretty!

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