Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

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For those of us hosting big family meals, at just over a month before Thanksgiving, we’ve officially reached the “almost the holidays” panic time.  That time when we revisit what we did last year to determine:

  • What dishes served had the most leftovers
  • What dishes got rave reviews
  • What dishes had no leftovers (for adjusting amount prepared)
  • What dishes were too much effort and underwhelmed

It’s also the time when we take a look at new recipes that we might want to add to this year’s menu, which means we get to make our families Guinea pigs for the next few weeks while we’re trying them out.

I already have one sweet potato recipe that my family loves, but this one (from the December 2005 issue of Food & Wine Magazine) looks pretty good, it’s easy, serves 10 – 12, and can be made the day before which frees up time on the big day, another bonus.

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Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 pounds medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 TBLS unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Poke the sweet potatoes several times with a fork and bake for about 35 minutes, or until tender.  Let cool slightly, then peel and transfer them to a food processor (I actually use my stand mixer). Puree until fairly smooth.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream with the butter and the vanilla bean and seeds. Bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla bean.

With the processor (or stand mixer) on, carefully pour the vanilla cream into the sweet potatoes and process until smooth. Season the sweet potato puree with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and serve.

I’d definitely consider doubling this recipe to make sure there were plenty of leftovers for piling on a turkey sandwich or frying up as sweet potato pancakes. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble

This isn’t your grandma’s banana pudding and it certainly isn’t the “off the back of the Nilla Wafer box” banana pudding recipe either!  Thumbing through the pages of the October 2009 Food & Wine Magazine, I found this different, may I even say elegant, spin on a truly classic Southern comfort food!

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Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons banana liqueur (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vanilla wafer cookies (about 15), coarsely ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 bananas, coarsely chopped
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 325°.
  2. In a bowl, combine the wafers, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of sugar and a pinch of salt.
  3. Stir in the melted butter.
  4. Spread the crumble on the prepared baking sheet; bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool.
  5. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch, the 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  6. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.
  7. Gradually whisk the milk into the egg yolks until smooth.
  8. Transfer the pudding mixture to the saucepan and add the banana liqueur.
  9. Cook over moderate heat, whisking, until the pudding is thick, about 3 minutes.
  10. Scrape the pudding into a bowl and whisk in the cold butter and vanilla.
  11. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours.
  12. Spoon the chopped bananas into bowls.
  13. Top with the pudding, sprinkle with the crumble and serve right away.

Yum! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

Frozen Margarita Pie

This dreamy pie comes from the magicians at Bon Appétit.  It’s easy and boozy!  My favorite dessert combination. 😉  It’s not a pie you can make at the last minute though.  You need to allow for at least 8 hours freezing time so the consistency is right, so plan ahead if you’re making this.

The Tequila you use matters – don’t just pour any old tequila in or you could ruin this pie.  Food & Wine Magazine recently published a list of 10 Top Blanco Tequilas and any of these would be great in this pie:

  • Espolon Blanco $26  100% agave tequilas, with a silky texture and a spicy kick
  • Tapatio Blanco $36  Smoky & complex, w/anise and classic herbaceous agave notes
  • Astral $39  Potent, floral tequila, agave juice ferments w/the pulp—a long-abandoned traditional approach
  • Casa Noble Crystal $40C  Certified Organic; Vegetal and funky (in a good way)
  • Siempra Valles Blanco $40  Earthy Agave from the Jalisco lowlands
  • Pasote Blanco $45  This subtle tequila from master distiller Felipe Camarena heads toward the lighter, greener side of agave, with grass and mint
  • Fortaleza Blanco $50  Guillermo Sauza started Fortaleza almost 30 years after his family sold its namesake brand. All of his tequilas—including this minty, unaged version—are superb
  • Expresiones del Corazóne Artisianal Edition Blanco $60  Agave at two different sugar levels is distilled and blended for this flavorful blanco—think eucalyptus, black pepper and plantain
  • Roca Patrón Silver $69  Emphatically agave-scented, this is made with the traditional tahona method, using a two-ton volcanic rock to crush the roasted piñas
  • Casa Dragones Blanco $75  This one is smooth w/lime peel and pine needle notes

 

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Frozen Margarita Pie

  • 6 TBSP Unsalted Butter
  • 10 graham crackers
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt. divided
  • ¾ cup chilled heavy cream
  • 5 limes, divided
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 Tbsp. tequila blanco

Melt 6 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let cool slightly.

Crumble 10 graham crackers into the bowl of a food processor. Add 3 Tbsp. sugar¼ tsp. salt, and melted butter to bowl and process until mixture resembles wet sand.

Transfer graham cracker mixture to a shallow 9″ pie pan. Using a measuring cup, press firmly into bottom and up sides of dish. Freeze 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk ¾ cup heavy cream in a medium bowl until cream begins to thicken to the point you see ripples and stiff peaks begin to form, 3–5 minutes.

Cut 4 limes in half and juice into a fine-mesh sieve set over a glass measuring cup (you should have about ½ cup juice). Pour lime juice into another medium bowl and whisk in 14 oz. condensed milk3 Tbsp. tequila, and remaining ¼ tsp. salt until smooth.

Fold half of whipped cream into lime juice mixture, carefully folding under and over while turning the bowl. Add remaining whipped cream and continue to fold until no streaks remain.

Remove pie pan from freezer and pour in filling. Using the back of a spoon, gently spread filling to edge of crust.

Using a microplane, zest half of the remaining lime over pie.

Freeze pie at least 8 hours, or preferably overnight.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

Italian-Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

I love a big, juicy cheeseburger but they can get boring after a while.  This recipe is one that will definitely take away the boredom and might even be one that I can whip out at a tailgate this football season to change it up a bit!

Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach

  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • Salt
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages (or a combination of both), casings removed
  • 4 slices of provolone cheese
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried-tomato pesto
  • 4 round ciabatta rolls, split and toasted

In a large skillet, bring 1/4 inch of water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 1 minute; drain and press out as much water as possible. Wipe out the skillet.

In the same skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the spinach, season with salt and stir just until coated, about 10 seconds.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Using slightly moistened hands, form the sausage meat into four 4-inch patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Brush the burgers with oil and grill over moderate heat until browned and crusty on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip the burgers. Top with the cheese and grill until the burgers are cooked through and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes longer. Spread the pesto on the rolls. Top with the burgers and spinach and serve.

These burgers would be great paired with a fruit forward zinfandel like a 2015 Sextant Zinfandel Holystone out of Paso Robles, CA or an Artezin 2016 Old Vine Family Farmed Sustainable Zinfandel out of Mendocino County, CA.   #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Mushroom & Chicken Risotto

mushroom-and-chicken-risottoI am a sucker for a thick, creamy risotto, but hate the time it takes to stand by the stove and stir in the liquid it takes to get it that way. This recipe, from Food & Wine Magazine satisfies my need for a speedy prep without sacrificing taste or the texture I love!  An added bonus, for anyone who has an intolerance, it’s Gluten Free!

Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into thin slices
  • 2/3 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 5 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock, more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook until the chicken is just done, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer.
  2. In the large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until all of the wine has been absorbed. Add about 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and cook, stirring frequently, until it has been absorbed. The rice and broth should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb it before adding the next 1/2 cup. Cook the rice in this way until tender, 25 to 30 minutes in all. The broth that hasn’t been absorbed should be thickened by the starch from the rice. You may not need to use all the liquid, or you may need more broth or some water.
  4. Stir in the chicken and mushrooms, the Parmesan, and the parsley and heat through. Serve the risotto with additional Parmesan.

SUGGESTED WINE PAIRING

The sweetness here will be nicely mirrored by an off-dry, aromatic white wine, such as Chenin Blanc, Riesling or Gewürztraminer from California.

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