Month: October 2012

Cozy Night In (Squash and Carrot Soup with Cumin)

Alright, let’s be real…

You usually don’t read past the 3rd line of my blogs before you skip down to the recipe.

You know what? That’s ok! You’re still a loyal reader, and you’re interested in the most important part – my food creations! So today, just for you, I’ve taken all of the tough work away from you – here you won’t find any two-finger sliding, rolling, or clicking arrows in order to get to what matters. You see, it’s not that I don’t want to ramble on about how amazing squash is, and how you can make so many things with it. (Case in point – my squash cake here!) But, seeing as this is my second blog of the day, I’ll just get right down to business.

Just make this soup.
Like now. And then warm it up when you’re cold.
And then thank me.
(Oh. You’re welcome.)

Squash Soup with Rosemary & Spice
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 medium acorn or butternut squash, PEELED and chopped into 1-inch cubes, seeds removed
2 cups chopped carrots
2 sprigs rosemary
4-5 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
2 tsp ground sea salt
1 tbsp fresh ground peppercorns

how to do it
Combine 1c broth with 2c water, add rosemary and cinnamon. Boil carrots and squash in liquid until very soft, about 20 minutes. Once fully cooked, remove cinnamon sticks. Remove mixture from heat, and, using a hand blender, pulse the mixture until velvety. Return mixture to stovetop on low heat. Slowly add 1c vegetable broth at a time, stirring well between additions. (Use more or less broth depending on desired consistency.) When desired thickness is reached, add cumin, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Stir together. Serve hot, garnished with a dollop of sour cream or yogout and roasted acorn squash seeds (or any other seeds that you can find, as the acorn squash seeds proved to be too delicious to even make it into the photoshoot.)

Que-Pasta? (Noodles & Avocado Sauce)

My name is Allison, and I am an avocadoholic. 
I can’t help it; it’s all I ever want to eat. I’ve tried to figure out what it is that draws me to this ridiculously expensive – albeit healthy – habit, and I’ve come to a handful of possible conclusions. I’ve thought that perhaps it’s my body craving the 20 essential nutrients that avocadoes have to offer. I’ve also considered the possibility that maybe it’s just my body craving healthy fats. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s simply because it’s something that just tastes so darn good! It’s a creamy, delicious, versatile food that can be used as a dip, in a sandwich, or as I’ve discovered recently, as a sauce.
This lovely creation was actually inspired by a condiment that I quite enjoy at this Venezuelan resto in the plateau (aptly named Arepera Du Plateau – and highly recommended if you’re in the Montreal area!) They serve their sandwiches and salads with this bright green addiction-forming avocado-based deliciousness. I’ve been known to order an avocado and cheese sandwich and slather it in avocado the stuff. (Because, well, I can never have too much avocado!) I don’t quite know what’s in their sauce, but I’ve taken my three favorite elements form it (avocadoes, cilantro and spice) and created my own version. I served it atop some egg pasta and garnished it with extra chopped fresh cilantro. The result? Delicious dinner in a flash, and a new way to use my favorite fruit!

Egg Noodles with Avocado Sauce & Cilantro

an original recipe by allison sklar
what you’ll need
2 medium avocadoes
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
dash salt
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 cup egg pasta, cooked al-dente and drained
(If you follow a vegan diet, this will work well with any thin flat pasta as well!)
how to do it
while your pasta is cooking, mash up avocado, lime juice, salt, garlic and hot sauce. Add cilantro. Slowly stir in vegetable broth, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. For a creamier sauce, use less broth. For a thinner sauce, add more. Adjust salt and spice to taste. Toss with cooked pasta while pasta is still hot. Garnish with additional cilantro. 
(hint: round out this meal by adding some vegetables on top. I had mine with sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes and it was delish!)

Crunch Time (Toffee Cookie Bars)

I’ve gone and done it.
I’ve made the most addictive dessert in the world.

Are you familiar with the crispy perimeter of a home-baked chocolate chip cookie? You know, I’m talking about that little crunchy bit that surrounds the cookie, the part that kinda taste like toffee? Alright, well even if you don’t know what I’m going on about, you should know that it’s some extremely delicious stuff. So, what if I told you that you can (easily) make this crunchy toffee deliciousness into it’s very own thing? Yeah, well you can. And I’m going to show you how!

This dessert is a gigantic winner in my books for a handful of reasons. For one, it’s super fast to prepare, and even faster to clean up. Second, this treat satisfies my cookie craving without the whole lengthy rolling-dough-into-balls part of the process. Third, this sweet stuff tastes like heaven! This recipe yields a large quantity but requires little effort, making it a great option for a bakesale, or to give as an edible gift to someone special. 

Disclaimer: this recipe is not recommended for those with weak self-control.

Toffee Cookie Bars
an original recipe, inspired by piece of cake blog

what you’ll need
1 cup white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup desiccated coconut (very finely shredded)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp coarse ground sea salt
1/2 cup add-ins (chocolate chips or nuts of your choice)

how to do it
Preheat your oven to 350F. (My oven is hardcore, so I heat mine to only 340. Adjust yours as necessary. These burn easily.)

Melt butter with sugar in microwave, for about one minute. Stir until well blended. Mixture should be shiny and smooth. Stir in vanilla and coconut. Slowly stir in flour and salt. Toss with your add-ins.
Pour onto parchment-lined 9×13 cookie sheet and spread out evenly. (The mixture should be spread quite thin, that’s the idea!) Bake for 20 minutes, or until top begins to be golden brown.

Remove from oven, and slice into rectangles while still hot – this is important, as once these cool, they are no longer easy to slice!

Let cool completely (this will allow them to harden and become even more delicious!)
Enjoy… over and over and over again.

Fallin’ For You (Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce)

Pumpkin alfredo sauce, where have you been all of my life?

I came up with this quick and simple dish after flipping through the latest issue of Food Network Magazine. For a couple of weeks, I’d routinely flip back to the same page, drooling over a photo of tortellini bathed in this dreamy pumpkin sauce. The original recipe asked to sautée pumpkin with nutmeg, but since I’m really not a nutmeg kind of gal, I decided to omit that step. I then reassessed the rest of the recipe, and well, I pretty well stripped it down to the basics (pumpkin puree and cream) and then added my own little twist.

My version comes together when delicious pumpkin puree meets with heavy cream, gets sprinkled with a hint of marinated garlic and finished off with a generous sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano cheese. Toss it with pasta and top it all off with sea salt and pepper, and you’ve got a meal. This sauce is so velvety that it tastes sinful, yet it’s surprisingly light thanks to the magic that is pumpkin puree.
(Also, what better way to get a picky eater to eat his or her veggies?!)

This recipe’s quick, easy, and ridiculously tasty – so make it tonight! Whether it’s for yourself, or to impress a lucky guest, tastebuds everywhere will be rejoicing in the glory of this newfound autumn comfort food.

Note: I served this with fresh cheese ravioli, but it would be a great companion to tortellini, fettuccine, tagliatelle or any other of your favorite pasta varieties.

Pumpkin Alfredo Ravioli
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 cup fresh pasta
1 cup canned pureed pumpkin (NOT pie filling!)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp crushed marinated garlic
1/4 cup freshly shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese
salt & pepper to taste

how to do it
Prepare your pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, begin to warm pumpkin in medium saucepan over low heat. Slowly add cream, stirring constantly with a non-stick spatula. Add garlic and heat until mixture begins to bubble. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Toss desired amount of sauce with drained pasta.

Serve with extra shredded cheese & fresh ground pepper sprinkled on top.
Enjoy!