A special weeknight dinner ~

I don't usually cook a meal like this on a weeknight, nor have I cooked like this all summer.  But summer has come to an end.  And as sad as I am about that, I have accepted it as I do each Fall here in New England.  It's inevitable I suppose. 

So onward and upward we go into our cool weather cooking.

I bought a rack of lamb at Costco, if you have one near you, do pick one up.  It comes frenched, trimmed,  ready to roast and it's quite delicious.  The whole thing roasts in the oven in about 1/2 hr.  I did marinate it in yogurt overnight.  After it's cooked (between 130-140 degrees F.), take the roast out of the oven, let it rest tented in foil for about 20 minutes before you carve it.

I also made creamy, cheesy polenta to go with it.  A great and quick thing to make while the roast is cooking.  And it presents so well.  Just sprinkle some chopped, fresh parsley on top and it looks like you spent all day preparing.

While the roast was cooking, I served crab cakes, that I bought prepared from Whole Foods and cut them in half for a silver dollar size.  They come much larger than I needed for a first dish, but easily fixable.  Cut them while they are cold from the refrigerator.  Then just dust them lightly with panko bread crumbs and sautéed them with a little butter in a skillet for 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Plated them with red leaf lettuce and drizzled a red pepper remoulade over each.   I like Ina Garten's philosophy about entertaining, "buy some, cook some".  It's a great time saving tip.  But, buy the best....

However, dessert was the piece de resistance... and yet so simple.

A pint of good ice cream.  Just crush 4 oreo cookies.  Make a simple chocolate sauce:  1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, 2 T. cream, 1 tsp. butter.  Melt chocolate and butter in microwave for 1 minute (but do it in 15 second increments).  Stir in cream.  If you want put in a tsp. of brandy, I did.

Take a parfait glass and put a teaspoon of crushed oreos.  Scoop one scoop of ice cream in glass.  Add another teaspoon of crushed oreos, another scoop of ice cream.  Place in freezer, until 10 minutes before serving.  Take parfait out of the freezer and drizzle a couple of teaspoons of chocolate sauce over the top.  Simple, yet delicious!  I used Trader Joe's pumpkin ice cream.  It was dreamy.

I love entertaining ~

Roasted Kohlrabi ~ a taste of Fall...

I went to my favorite farm stand last weekend and couldn't believe how Fall magically appeared overnight!  Gone were all of the summer plants and greens and in came the witches, pumpkins and ghosts.  Gourds and root vegetables are everywhere.  Sigh.... summer is over, I must concede.

But I do love turning on my oven again, so roasting root vegetables returned to my table this week.  And how wonderful it was to smell something cooking in the kitchen again.  :)

Kohlrabi is one of my fall favorites, it's a wonderful, tasty root vegetable.  Although it's a bit odd looking and very underrated, it's delicious when roasted.

Here is what I do, it's easy, and excellent if roasted lightly brown and crunchy.  Almost reminds me of French fries.

See it on the left?  You have to slice off the top and bottom and use and apple peeler to take the tough exterior off.  It's a bit fibrous, but really not that hard to peel off. 


I have an easy trick though.  After you cut off the bottom and top, place it back standing upwards and peel the sides down in one fell swoop.  See the beautiful fruit exposed inside?

Next slice it into wedges, just like you would a steak fry.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, Fahrenheit.  Toss the slices with salt and pepper and a tablespoon of olive oil.

I like them a bit darker, but you can take them out of the oven after they are golden brown too.  I bake them on a half sheet pan for 15 minutes and then turn them over to bake another 15 minutes.

They are yummy as a side dish, pretty low cal too!

I've linked this to the very lovely site of Foodie Friday ~


Apple Walnut Carmel pull apart coffee cake ~

I needed a quick morning coffee cake to bring to friends.  I embellished one of those "monkey bread" recipe and my friends swooned over it.  Did I tell them it took me 5 minutes to throw together?  Nope!  One even said they wanted me to make it for their Birthday!  If they only knew....

It's a fabulous little cake that would be a great brunch item.  And it's quick to put together and as you can see, not so bad on the eyes either!

Here's the recipe:

1 large apple (baking, I used empire)
2 cans of regular size, refrigerator biscuits (I used Pillsbury)
1/3 cup of chopped walnuts
2/3 cup brown sugar, divided
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Peel, core and dice apple.  Take biscuits out of cans, pull apart each biscuit and cut in fourths.  Add 1/3 cup of brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl, mix together.  Add biscuit pieces, stir together well.  Set aside.

Put butter, 1/3 cup sugar and chopped walnuts in the bottom of a molded Bundt pan.  Put pan in the oven for 5 minutes to melt butter.  Take the pan out of the oven.  Pour about half of mixture over the bowl with the biscuits and stir well.  Spoon the biscuit mixture into the Bundt pan, pressing down at the top to distribute evenly.  Place Bundt pan in the middle rack in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, until top is golden brown.

Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes.  Place a large plate on top of the Bundt pan and invert the cake onto the plate.

Serve warm.   The apples and walnuts make this simple cake just smell and taste heavenly!



Spaghetti squash..... who knew?

My co-worker did.... she brought some in for me to try and it was delicious.  I decided to try to make some for myself.

And that it can be a very low calorie replacement for spaghetti.  I didn't believe it, but it can be.  And it's quite delicious on it's own.  But, I wanted to cut my calories/fat in half, while still enjoying a spaghetti dinner.  So, I made this spaghetti squash and replaced half of the amount of real spaghetti to my dinner and everyone loved it.

Just take one spaghetti squash (medium), and cut it in half length wise.  Pre-heat oven to 350 F.  Scrape out the seeds with a tablespoon and discard.  Spray a baking sheet with vegetable spray, sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the cut side of the squash.  Place cut side down on baking sheet and place in the oven uncovered for 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and turn over.  Add 1 cup of chopped, fresh, diced roma tomatoes.  Sprinkle with  1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese.  I used 1/2 cup for both halves.  Place back in the oven for 15 minutes on 375 degrees.  Now, you can serve this just as is.

Or, you can do what I did and serve it with roasted, baby eggplants, that were a fabulous accompaniment. Quite hardy too.  No meat needed for this meal!

And you can serve it like this....
Or you can scrape out the spaghetti squash with a fork after you bake it the second time (it comes out easily), and serve it along side of 1/2 cup cooked and tossed spaghetti (with a small amount of light spaghetti sauce). Add the roasted eggplant. And you have your Friday night spaghetti night with half the calories.  And you don't miss the meat either!

Just look at this dish.  Low calorie?  Yes.  Delicious? Yes. Did anyone feel deprived?  No, my guests loved it.  And most of all, I loved it and will make it again and again! 



Gloucester by the sea ~

Gloucester is another town by the sea, a real fishing community.  It's north of me, about 30 minutes, depending on the traffic.  I love the North Shore, rich in rocky shores.

It's beautiful town, but not a real wealthy town with mansions and little shops to see.  Although it has many artisans in the community, it's center is around the people who are fisherman by trade.  Many, many hard working people live here, mostly who try and make a living from the ocean.

I went to an artisan fair a couple of weeks ago and took a couple of pictures.  While not rich with money, this town proves it's richness of it's own.  I find it a very beautiful place to visit.  And there is much more to see than my very few pictures here.

The picture above is The Fisherman's Memorial, named The Old Man of the Sea.

Here are a couple of houses across the street from the ocean, nice but not quite as elegant as it's neighboring towns.  I love these streets though, just as much.

A few affordable seafood places.  Lobster in the summer is very reasonable too!

The further you travel north of Boston, the rockier the shores get.
Early morning fog...

Such lush forest surrounding this bay ~

Working the ocean is much nicer in these months of summer.
Now wouldn't you just love to live here?  Hmm, maybe not so much in the winter....
If you get a chance, be sure you visit here, you won't be disappointed.  It's a lovely place ~