Thursday, October 8, 2009

thursday randomness: the pumpkin edition

It's been a crazy week. I admit, I haven't even broken the camera out once (bad Mama!). Monday was a playdate, clothes shopping for Ava, groceries and other errands, and also Ava's ballet class. Tuesday was a babysitting co-op meeting, babysitting a girlfriend's two kids for the day, and dinner with the inlaws. Wednesday was Ava's homeschool co-op, then a meeting with the other moms afterward to discuss next month's curriculum, then an afternoon of bread baking followed by a potluck dinner with our MOMS Club. Oh, and add a trip to the gym every day. Needless to say, I've been in bed by 9 every night.

Today is a bit more relaxed...watching a friend's kids this morning, then school with Ava, then the gym. Tomorrow is another MOMS Club activity and more school with Ava. And probably more gym time. Why do I do this to myself? Simple - I would go absolutely insane if we stayed home all day, as would the girls. I could probably drop out of my babysitting co-op, but how would I get my me time during the week??

This morning, I made some pumpkin spice lattes in my little crock pot, using this recipe. Have I mentioned my love for the Crockpot Lady?? We've liked all of the recipes that I've tried from her site, and since they're crockpot recipes...they're super duper simple. I really need to start making one of her soups once a week so we can eat yummy soup all week for lunches.

Finally, I brought this yummy lasagna to my inlaws' on Tuesday night. It was pretty easy, and since it used the no-boil noodles, it came together in about 20 minutes. YUM!

Pumpkin Gorgonzola Lasagna

1 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp minced fresh sage
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups milk
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp butter
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 box oven ready lasagna noodles
freshly grated parmagiano reggiano cheese
1/8 - 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1) Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat with 2 tbsp oil. Add the sausage and cook until golden brown, breaking up the meat as it cooks with a wooden spoon. Push the meat to one side and add the onion and garlic. Cook until onions are tender, being careful not to burn the garlic. Season everything in the pan with salt and pepper ( to taste). Set aside.

2) Meanwhile, in a medium-sized sauce pan, melt 3 tbsp of butter. Whisk in flour and cook for about a minute or so, whisking continuously until smooth. Whisk the milk in next, break up any clumps that might form. Bring the mixture to a slow bubble, and simmer for 2 -3 minutes until slightly thickened. Season with salt, pepper, sage, and nutmeg. Add Gorgonzola and stir until cheese is completely melted, 1 - 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

3) In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin and ricotta cheese.

To assemble lasagna, begin with 1 cup of sauce spread on the bottom of a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Layer three noodles over the sauce, top them with 1/3 the pumpkin mixture, 1 cup of the meat, and another cup of sauce. Repeat these layers two more times, topping the casserole with a layer of lasagna noodles. Spoon any remaining sauce over the top and (optional) you could sprinkle chopped walnuts and some freshly grated parmagiano reggiano cheese.

Cover with foil and bake until the sauce is bubbling and pasta is cooked through, about 45 minutes. If you choose to add the walnuts and/or the parmagiano reggiano cheese, after the first 45 minutes of baking, remove foil and brown the top (about 10 minutes).

Joel pointed out that this lasagna reminded him of this recipe, so I thought I'd post it's definitely going on the menu for next week. The only thing it's lacking is the Gorgonzola, but of course, it would be easy to add in.

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage
Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons
1 cup dry white wine (I suppose you could use more stock, but it would alter the taste significantly)
1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating

Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.
Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.
Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.

I'm not usually a fan of Rachael Ray's recipes, but this one is great (and fast too!).

See? Pumpkin can be used for many things besides desserts!

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