Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Contest closed

The free pasta dinner contest is now closed, and the winners (by random computer number-picking script) have been contacted. They are:

#2: Lisa
#8: Teri
#29: Carrie

Congratulations, winners! If you haven't received an email from me, please check your spam folder. (Except for Teri - I had to contact you via DeltaPOST because I couldn't find an email address for you.)

Congratulations to the winners, and enjoy your free dinner! Be sure to come back & post a comment letting us all know how you liked it. :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Free Dinner!

I am proud to be able to host my first blog contest: a free dinner giveaway! I have three gift certificates for a Tuscani Pasta dinner from Pizza Hut. The kids & I had the Chicken Alfredo version on Friday, and let me tell you, this is quite a bit of food. It's three pounds of pasta, plenty for four adults (the kids and I only ate about half the pan), plus five warm, soft breadsticks.

If you'd like a free pasta dinner, all you have to do is add a comment to this blog post. I'll pull three names at random tomorrow night (Tuesday) and contact the winners to arrange delivery of your gift certificate. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Stuffed Pasilla Peppers

I've been promising to make stuffed peppers for Mr Wonderful ever since he got transferred to the local hospital, in celebration of his massively reduced commute. But the thing is, I hate stuffed peppers. It's basically meatloaf in a green bell pepper. Ick. But the other day I saw a 30 Minute Meals episode where RR makes a poblano pepper stuffed with corn & topped with cheese, and I thought it sounded perfect. Mr Wonderful & I love Mexican food. I decided to change it up a little, though. I had leftover chipotle peppers in adobo and some enchilada sauce (after making Yum Yum Chicken Enchilada Casserole for a friend who just had a baby), and this is what I came up with. It may not be the most photogenic meal I've made, but it is one of the tastiest!

Stuffed Pasilla Peppers
2 pasilla peppers (the store didn't have poblanos, but they would work just fine if you can find them)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 c frozen corn kernels, defrosted
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatos, drained well
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
2 chipotle peppers in adobo (from a can), minced
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 c shredded cheese (I used bagged Mexican mix, but you can use jack or cheddar or whatever floats your boat)
1 c enchilada sauce
salt & pepper

Preheat the broiler. Wash the peppers and put them (intact) on a baking sheet & pop them under the broiler. Broil for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice to ensure even charring. You want them blistered and blackened just a little bit, but not completely deflated and turned to mush. (Leave the broiler on after taking out the peppers. You'll need it later.)

In a saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and corn. Season with salt & pepper, and allow to brown up just a little. Then add the black beans, tomatoes and cumin. When everything is warmed through, turn off the heat and add the fresh cilantro.

By this time your peppers should have cooled enough to handle. Make a slit from stem to tip (not cutting all the way in half, just slicing the pepper open), and remove the stem and seeds. You should have a kind of floppy pepper "cup". Fill the cup with the corn mixture - really load it in there. Top each pepper with about 3/4 cup cheese. Pop it under the broiler, keeping the door cracked open just a bit so you can keep a close eye on it. Don't let the cheese burn! You just want it to melt and get golden brown.

Heat the enchilada sauce in a pan or in the microwave. When the peppers are finished, plate them up and spoon about 1/2 cup of the warmed enchilada sauce over each one.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Smoky-Sweet Butternut Squash Soup

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The leaves change colors, the weather turns brisk and sweater-worthy, and everything returns to a regular schedule. The kids are back in school. Television stations stop showing reruns and cheap summer filler. What's not to love about autumn? So to celebrate the advent of autumn, I fixed my favorite soup, the one that most clearly evokes autumn for me: butternut squash soup.

Smoky-Sweet Butternut Squash Soup
1 Tbsp EVOO
3-4 slices bacon
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 golden delicious apple, peeled, cored and diced
About 1 dozen fresh sage leaves
1 jar butternut squash puree (I get those big jars from Williams-Sonoma), or one large butternut squash, roasted & pureed (if you're not lazy like me)
2-4 cups chicken stock (one big box = 4 cups)
2 Tbsp butter
salt & pepper

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry until crisp; remove and drain on paper towels. Add the onions to the pot and saute in the olive oil and bacon grease for a few minutes, until translucent but not browned. Add the diced apple and saute for another couple of minutes. Chop up about half a dozen sage leaves and add them to the apples and onions, and season everything with salt & pepper. (Reserve another half dozen large, beautiful sage leaves for garnish.) When the apples are nice and soft, add the butternut squash puree and about two cups of chicken stock and raise the temperature to medium-high. When the soup starts to bubble a bit, lower the temperature back down to medium and break out your immersion blender and blend it up until smooth. If the soup is too thick, add more stock (final amount will depend on how much butternut squash puree you have and how thick you like your soup). When everything is heated back up again, taste the soup, and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

To garnish, melt two tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter is completely melted and done foaming, add the reserved whole sage leaves, making sure to keep them separated. Remove the sage leaves after about 30 seconds, and drain on a paper towel. The leaves should be crispy. Chop the cooked bacon and the fried sage leaves and top your bowl of soup with a little of each. Delicious!

My favorite thing today

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