Tuesday, November 23, 2021

ChezCindy: Roasted Acorn Squash with Chicken and Rice

Acorn squash is a versatile vegetable often roasted as a simple side dish, glazed with butter and brown sugar.  A method used to make a good accompaniment to roasted turkey at the holiday dinner table. 

 In this recipe, I am using the squash as a vessel for the main dish, filling the roasted halves with a creamy chicken and rice mix.  I use a medley of fresh herbs, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, to add flavor and color to the mix, hitting all the notes for a lovely autumn dinner.  

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chicken and Rice
2 medium acorn squash
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup diced white button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 cups of cooked rice or cauliflower rice
3 tablespoons cream

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut each acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds.  Place each half cut-side down on a cutting board.  Slice off a thin bit from the skin of the squash so that when turned over, the squash half will sit level on the baking tray.  This will keep the squash from wobbling around and spilling out the filling.  

Rub the cut squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, placing cut-side down on a large heavy-duty baking sheet with sides.  Place the tray with the squash into the preheated oven, center-rack, roasting for roughly 30 minutes.  The squash flesh should feel tender when gently pierced with a fork.  Remove from the oven, set aside to add the filling.  Turn off the oven.  

While the squash is roasting, place a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.  When the oil is hot, add in the ground chicken and 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring to break up the meat into small crumbles.  Cook until lightly browned.  Remove the chicken from the pan onto a plate, set aside.  

Cook the diced onions in the same pan, stirring until soft.  Add in the diced mushrooms, tossing together with the onions.  If the pan is too dry, add in another tablespoon of oil.  When the mushrooms and onions are tender, add in the minced garlic, cooking for about 30 seconds.  Add the cooked chicken back to the pan with the cooked vegetables.  Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt, black pepper, red pepper, all of the chopped fresh herbs stirring to combine.  Add in the rice stir to combine.  Stir in the cream to coat the chicken and vegetables.  Turn off the heat.  

Bring it all together:  Turn on the broiler.  Keeping the squash on the roasting pan, turn each half cut-side up.  Generously fill each half with the creamy chicken and vegetable rice mixture.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of grated cheese onto the top of each filled squash.  Place the sheet tray with the filled squash under the broiler for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is lightly browned.  Carefully remove from the broiler, serve hot.  

Sunday, November 14, 2021

ChezCindy: Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Muffins


This lovely autumn seasonal pumpkin recipe can be baked into muffins or as a quick-bread.  The addition of yellow cornmeal is different from other pumpkin baked goods, enhancing the texture and adding structure for a muffin or bread that puffs up tall to fill the pan as it bakes.  

My mother made pumpkin breads and muffins when we were young kids every fall season.  She offered the pumpkin treats with a spread of cream cheese.  If you have not tried this combination, I encourage you to do so.  The crunch of the walnuts and the tart cranberries are delightful paired with the creamy savory cheese, and the sweetness of the baked good.  

I use my pumpkin pie spice blend in this recipe.  Putting this spice blend together is a quick start to many sweet pumpkin recipes.  The muffins would also be really good with a homemade pumpkin butter.   

Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Muffins
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Makes 12 standard size muffins or 1 9x5-inch loaf 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a standard size muffin tin with 12 paper cupcake liners.  Set aside.  Or if using a 9x5-inch loaf pan, lightly grease the pan with baking spray.  

Working with a large mixing bowl, measure out the dry ingredients, starting with the flour to the pumpkin pie spice, adding these to the mixing bowl.  Stir to combine.

Working in a separate medium size mixing bowl, add in the sugars and the eggs, mixing until well  combined.  Add in the pumpkin puree, oil, and vanilla, mixing until combined.  Transfer the sugar-pumpkin mixture to the large mixing bowl with the dry ingredients, stirring until fully combined.  Fold in the dried cranberries and the chopped walnuts, folding until evenly mixed.  

Using a 1/4-cup spring-loaded ice cream scoop, scoop out the thick batter into the prepared muffin tray.  Or, transfer the batter to the 9x5-inch loaf pan.  Place the muffin tray, or loaf pan, into the preheated oven.  Bake the muffins for 22-24 minutes.  Bake the loaf bread for 50-55 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean with a few crumbs attached.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing, setting onto a wire rack to cool. 

*If not using pumpkin pie spice, you can substitute 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves.

Monday, November 1, 2021

ChezCindy: Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Sugar Doughnut Glaze


I don't make Bundt cakes very often.  When I do, I think of them to be something special.  It's probably because of the beautiful design created from the cake pan and the hope that it will turn out of the pan in one gorgeous shape.  This one not only turned out nicely, but the taste was spectacular with gingerbread spices.  

I have fond memories of my mother making a pistachio Bundt cake for my grandfather, her father, when he came to visit us.  This cake became a signature cake for her, making it mostly for special occasions.  For that time, it was very hip to use supermarket help when baking.  The recipe she made used a box of Jell-O pistachio pudding mix.  My mother most likely found the recipe in one of the magazines she subscribed to, or even from the back of the pudding box.  To us kids, it may have been a bit too grown up for us, at least for me it was.  My palette sure has changed.  

I love all things gingerbread, as you might notice from my earlier posts.  This recipe from King Arthur Baking Company does not disappoint.  The ginger and other spices take front and center in this moist delicious cake.  The glaze may seem odd at first as it is very thin, not a thick icing at all.  Once the sugar glaze is applied, it soaks into the cake, creating a sparkling sugar appearance like that of a sugar doughnut.  Really wonderful and delicious.   

Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Sugar Doughnut Glaze

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup water

Sugar Doughnut Glaze
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare the Bundt cake pan by either spraying it was a flour baking spray, or using a brush to coat the pan with melted butter and dusted with flour.

In a large separate bowl, add the flour, spices, salt, baking soda and baking powder, whisking all to combine.  Set aside.  

Working with a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, add in the butter and sugar, mixing together until fluffy.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing to combine, scraping the bowl after each addition.  Mix in the molasses.  Add in the flour mixture alternately with the water, starting and ending with the flour.  Mix just until smooth.

Transfer the batter to the prepared Bundt cake pan, smoothing the top.  Bake the cake for 45-55 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean with just a few crumbs.

Remove the cake from the oven allowing it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  While the cake is cooling for the 10 minutes, make the sugar glaze by adding the ingredients to a small bowl. stirring until combined.  Turn out the cake onto a wire rack.  

While the cake is still warm. brush the cake with the sugar glaze, using the full amount to cover generously.  Allow the cake to cool fully before slicing and serving.