Carrot Soufflé with Breadcrumb Pecan Topping

1½ lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (can substitute sweet potato)

¼ cup light brown sugar, packed

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter

3 eggs

¼ cup half and half or milk

1/3 cup orange juice

Zest of 1 orange

¼ cup flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

Topping

½ cup breadcrumbs (Panko)

½ cup pecans, chopped

2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the carrots in a large saucepan, cover with water and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Using an electric beater (or a food processor), mash the carrots well, adding one at a time, the sugar, butter, eggs, half and half and lastly the orange juice and zest. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and add them to the carrots. Mix well.

Butter a deep-dish casserole dish (8×8 square or an 8” round soufflé) and transfer the sweet potato mixture to the dish. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, pecans and sugar; mix well. Add the butter, mixing with your hands until it is well incorporated. Scatter the mixture over the top of the souffle. Bake until the topping is lightly browned, 45-50 minutes. Serves 4-6.


Comforting Creamy Rice and Chicken Bake

If you have leftover chicken or turkey, this is a perfect use for it; you can get creative by using up small amounts of vegetables, leftover rice and even a store prepared gravy if you don’t want to make your own. This is the perfect dinner for a chilly night.

Rice

3 C cooked rice – white, brown, wild or a blend (or 7oz. boxed rice blend, such as Lundberg)

Filling

1 T unsalted butter

1 C onion, diced

1 C celery, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into small cubes (or 2 C leftover cooked chicken or turkey, cubed)

2 t Italian seasoning

½ C parsley, chopped fine

1 C Panko or regular breadcrumbs

Other vegetable add-ins (optional) – choose two or three

1 C mushrooms, sliced or minced

½ C fennel, diced

½ C leeks, thinly sliced

½ C zucchini, grated

½ C carrots, grated

½ C artichoke hearts, diced

½ C celery root (celeriac), diced small

½ C parsnips, peeled and diced small

Creamy gravy

3 T unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, minced

3 T flour

1 ½ C chicken or vegetable broth, warm

½ C half-and-half, warm (or substitute non-dairy creamer such as oat milk creamer)

¼ t nutmeg

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the rice: If using a rice blend box mix, cook the rice according to directions on the box. Remove rice from heat when it’s almost cooked through but still slightly hard to the bite (“al dente”). If using leftover rice, bring to room temperature.

Make the filling: While the rice is cooking, prepare the vegetable and chicken filling: melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat, add the onions, celery and garlic. Cover with a lid and sauté until vegetables have lightly softened, 2 minutes, uncover and add any additional recommended vegetables you desire. Add the chicken, cover and cook another 3 minutes, until the chicken no is no longer raw but not thoroughly cooked. (Note: if using leftover cooked chicken or turkey, add it after the vegetables have been lightly sautéed.) Set vegetables and chicken aside while you prepare the creamy gravy.

Make the creamy gravy: In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter and add the minced shallot. Sauté the shallot briefly to soften, then add the flour, whisking thoroughly and cook, whisking constantly, until the roux loses its glossy sheen, about 3 minutes. Warm the broth and the half and half (or oat creamer) in the microwave for one minute. Add the broth ½ cup at a time to the roux, whisking constantly between each addition. Add the warm half and half and whisk well. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the rice into a 9×9 baking dish, add the vegetable chicken filling and gravy, mixing carefully to incorporate the gravy throughout. Add the chopped parsley and mix thoroughly. Cover with the breadcrumbs and bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Serves 4.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust, Salted Caramel Drizzle

For the Gingersnap Crust

1 C ground gingersnaps (about 2 C whole cookies)

1/3 C flour

¼ C unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

12oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

½ C light brown sugar

2 eggs

8oz. pumpkin purée

¼ C sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)

1 t ground ginger

1 t pumpkin pie spice (or substitute ¼ t EACH nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cinnamon)

1 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 8×8” baking pan with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse the gingersnaps until finely crushed. Add the flour, pulse again and then add the melted butter. Process until mixture resembles wet sand. Press gingersnap mixture evenly into the baking pan and set aside.

With a hand-held beater or with a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat the softened cream cheese with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the pumpkin puree, sour cream, spices and vanilla. Beat again until everything is combined and smooth. Pour the mixture into prepared pan. Bake until set and golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Leave the cheesecake to begin to cool in the oven another 20 minutes with the door ajar, then remove and cool completely. Once cheesecake is at room temperature place in the fridge to set, several hours or overnight. (You can also freeze the cheesecake for up to one month.) Before serving, cut into squares and drizzle with Salted Caramel. Makes 16 squares.

Homemade Salted Caramel

Double the recipe so you’ll have extra on hand for ice cream! Caramel is made from so few ingredients that using high quality butter and cream will shine through.

½ C granulated sugar

3 T high quality unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ C heavy cream, room temperature

½ t sea salt

In a very clean heavy bottom saucepan, heat the sugar on medium low heat until completely melted, swirling the pan gently every 20 seconds or so. Watch the sugar carefully, as it will turn dark and caramelize quickly, but you don’t want it to burn. Once melted and nicely dark, remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the butter. The mixture will violently bubble – don’t worry, you’re doing it right. Continue whisking quickly until all the butter is absorbed. Next, pour in the heavy cream and whisk until combined, then add the salt. Allow the caramel to cool completely before using. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for one or two days, or in the refrigerator for up to one month. Microwave if necessary to make it pourable. Yield ¾ cup.


Lemony Potatoes and Sweet Peppers

Take advantage of fall (or spring) baby new potatoes, smother them with sweet bell pepper strips and a tangy lemon butter sauce, to make this dish a perfect side for just about anything.

1 lb. baby potatoes- Yukon, red bliss, purple or fingerling

1 sweet bell pepper – red, yellow or orange, seeded and sliced into strips

1 T olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

½ C chicken or vegetable broth

1 T fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 T butter, chilled

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 t sea salt and pepper, to taste

Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the potatoes and reduce heat. Simmer potatoes until barely tender, about 5 minutes. Drain potatoes, cool, and halve lengthwise. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic, and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add potatoes, cut sides down, and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in stock. Add sliced bell peppers. Cook until liquid is reduced by a third, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add thyme and butter, and stir until butter has melted. Stir in lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Garnish with more thyme leaves or parsley. Serves 4-6.


Roasted Garlic Compound Butter

1 large (or 2 small) bulb of garlic

2 t olive oil

½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ C parsley, finely chopped

½ t sea salt

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Slice off the top of the head of the bulbs of garlic, drizzle well with olive oil and wrap each head individually in foil. Roast 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the bulb. Carefully unwrap the bulb after 45 minutes of cooking to check how dark and caramelized it is and remove or continue cooking, depending on how browned you prefer.

Cool the garlic enough to handle, then remove each clove from the papery skin. Plump cloves will squeeze out of the skin easily, but more caramelized cloves may need to be scooped out with a spoon. Mash the garlic into a paste; one large head should yield one generous tablespoon of paste.

In a bowl, whip the softened butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add 1-2 tablespoons of roasted garlic paste (depending on how strong a flavor you like), add the finely chopped parsley and salt. Mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container or place the butter on a large piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log shape, refrigerated for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer up to 3 months.

Use compound butter on steamed or grilled vegetables, fish or steak; serve it with fresh bread, dinner rolls, on a cheese board or on top of baked potatoes.