Honeycrisp, Sage, & Bacon Shells and Cheese

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Northern Hemispherians! It’s fall, or more properly, autumn!

I always look forward to the change of seasons, but Autumn is my favorite. It’s the cool change in the air that demands I bring back my cardigans from the depths of my closet, warm beverages, nights that require a fire, oven-baked everything, pumpkins and crazy looking gourds at the market, and apples.

I’ve been preparing for the change of the season by buying Casper tiny-plaid shirts that make him look like a lumberjack-in-training, hats that make him look like a baby-bear, and lots of honeycrisp apples for me to eat. I LOVE honeycrisps. I really fell in love with them when we were living in Michigan–they were abundant there and I am pretty sure that I ate at least my weight in them late last fall after I found out I was pregnant. So, basically, Casper is at least 1/3 honeycrisp apple–the other 2/3 being a mix of strawberries and pizza.Anyway, let’s talk about the perfect fall-flavored mac and cheese. This dish combines my favorite sweet-tart-crisp apple with my favorite fall herb–sage–plus bacon, cheddar, goat cheese, and parm for good measure. Triple-cheese-threat!

And it’s so good, guys! It has all the cheesy goodness you’d expect from classic macaroni and cheese, complete with a crisp topping, plus tart apples, sweet onions, salty bacon, and earthy sage. UGH. It’s so good. Sean was a little skeptical, I think, but I assured him that cheese and apples are friends so it totes makes sense. It’s one of those dishes that made me want to high-five myself when it was done, because it’s good…like, really.

[recipe]

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Honeycrisp, Sage, & Bacon Shells and Cheese

You can use any firm, tart-sweet apple you like for this recipe.

Serves 6-8

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 tablespoon bacon grease reserved from cooking

2 honeycrisp apples, diced and peeled

1 medium onion, sliced

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped sage

1 lb. small to medium shell pasta

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon flour

3 cups milk

6 ounces shredded white cheddar cheese

4 ounces soft goat cheese

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon melted, unsalted butter

Garnish:

Sage leaves

Canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease over medium-high and cook the apples and onions with a pinch of salt until softened. Remove from the heat and toss with the chopped sage and most of the bacon (reserve a few tablespoons for the top of the pasta).

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water and cook about 2 minutes less than the package instructs. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In the same pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the flour to create a roux. Cook the roux about 1 minute before gradually stirring in the milk. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer and cook until it thickens a bit. Gradually add in the cheddar, goat cheese, and 1/4 cup of the parmesan, stirring to melt and combine. Stir in the nutmeg and add salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat. Add the cooked pasta and bacon, apple, onion mixture to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Scrape the pasta into a 9×13 baking dish, or two smaller dishes (I used a 10-inch round dish and 4x4inch square dish). In bowl, toss the panko with the melted butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan, sprinkle over the top of the pasta evenly. Top the pasta with the reserved bacon and bake in the center of the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are browned and the edges of the pasta are bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

To garnish with fried sage, heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and fry sage leaves until crisp. Drain on paper towels before adding to the baked pasta.[/recipe]

 

Lemon Herb Chicken Romano

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Jessica from the blog How Sweet Eats is one of the funniest, hyperbolic, and creative recipe makers out there. I love her and her blog to pieces and even though we’ve never met, I consider her a friend in that totally-weird-virtual-friend way.  I always look forward to her over-the-top recipes and hilarious musings. Reading her blog is a serious delight for me, her conversational tone and drool-worthy photos get me every time, and I’m sure her legions of fans would agree. And, it’s a major year for her! I mean, she just published her first book, moved, and is expecting an amazing baby-bundle in just a few months. She’s a serious super-girl.

That said, it’s no wonder her new cookbook, Seriously Delish, is such a stunner. I mean, it’s packed with her tell-tale creative recipes and signature writing style, plus tons of gorgeous photos to go with. So, to celebrate the release of Jessica’s first (and I am sure not last) cookbook, I knew I had to share something with you all from it’s pages and it was no easy choice. There are seriously SO MANY enticing recipe to choose from–I mean, HELLO Baked Black Raspberry Oatmeal with a Brown Butter Drizzle, or Bacon Manhattans, or Slow Cooker Short Rib Breakfast Hash, or S’mores Hot Fudge Shakes…UGH! Anyway, I decided to go with one of her mother’s classic recipes, the kind you’d serve to people you love, Lemon Herb Chicken Romano, because it’s mom-approved and it’s cheese crusted. WIN.

To continue the celebration, in collaboration with her publisher, I’m giving away a copy of Seriously Delish to a lucky reader! Cue the confetti-blast emoji’s!! Just leave a comment below about the last seriously delish thing you ate or made and a winner will be chosen at random on September 24th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

[recipe]

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Lemon-Herb Chicken Romano

From Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 cup freshly grated romano cheese

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup low-sodium chicken stock

2 lemons

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

cooked pasta to serve

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Set up an assembly line of 3 bowls. Add the flour, dried parsley, and garlic powder to one bowl. Add the eggs and milk to the next and beat lightly. Add the cheese to the last bowl.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil. Dredge a piece of chicken through the flour, coating it completely. Add it to the egg, coating it once more. Finally, add it to the cheese and press so the cheese adheres to the chicken. Add the chicken to the skillet, and repeat with the remaining chicken breasts. Cook each breast until golden on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Be gentle when flipping so you don’t lose the coating. Once the chicken is browned, add the wine to the skillet and turn off the heat. Add the chicken stock and juice of 1 lemon. Cut the other lemon into wedges and place them in the skillet. Add the butter pieces to the skillet.

Cover the skillet and bake the chicken for 20-25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. [/recipe]

Turkey & Zucchini Meatball Sandwiches

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One of my ultimate comfort foods is the humble meatball. The funny thing is, we NEVER had them growing up. My mom, grandma, and aunts never really made them. Sure, we had spaghetti with meat sauce, but never meatballs. I always longed for a plate of pasta and meatballs, a la Lady and the Tramp. It’s just that kind of nostalgia evoked via cinema and whimsy that you sometimes crave. You know? As an adult, I have made certain meatballs have become part of my cooking repertoire.

Recently, I was contacted by Le Creuset and Williams Sonoma inquiring if I’d be interested in participating in a traveling potluck, dubbed #lapispotluck, using the exclusive Lapis French Oven. My answer was obviously, YES…duh. I have a Le Creuset Braiser that I treasure and use often, so I knew I would love a chance to use the French Oven. I’m just a sucker for enameled cast iron.

When I was thinking of what to make with this beautiful oven, I really wanted something with a color that would pop against that deep blue. Enter these Turkey & Zucchini Meatball Sandwiches. I love meatballs a top a pile of spaghetti, but there’s just something so irresistible about a messy, meatball sandwich. I knew the red sauce with bits of bright-green basil would compliment the Lapis hue perfectly, plus it would make a delicious dinner.

I made these meatballs with turkey, since it’s spring and some of us may be seeking comfort foods on the lighter side. Even though these are turkey meatballs, they are still juicy and full of flavor thanks to the sausage, aromatics, parmesan, and plenty of fresh zucchini. I like to brown my meatballs a bit before dropping them into the sauce for an extra layer of flavor, plus those brown bits leftover are perfect for helping to season the sauce–all made in the same pot! The meatballs are great on their own, but piled on top of a lightly toasted roll and topped with plenty of melty cheese and fragrant basil is absolute meatball sandwich perfection.

[recipe]

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Turkey & Zucchini Meatball Sandwiches

Makes several sandwiches (at least 6).

For the rolls, I used some sausage rolls made in the bakery of my favorite market. Small hoagie or sub rolls, or even portions of a baguette would work perfectly.

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 lb. turkey Italian sausage (hot or sweet, depending on your preference)

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1 heaping cup shredded zuchinni

1 heaping cup minced onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1/2 teaspoon salt

pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

Sauce:

1 onion, diced fine

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1, 28 ounce, can crushed tomatoes

salt to taste

For sandwiches:

basil

shredded mozzarella

parmesan

sandwich rolls

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs and mix well. I like to use my hand in a claw-like motion, stirring in one direction vigorously until well combined. Scoop meat into golf-ball sized portions and set on a sheet pan or large plate. Heat your French oven, or other wide pot, over medium-high heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the meatballs in batches, on at least 2 sides, remove the browned meatballs back to the plate or sheet pan (they do not need to be cooked through, cooking will continue in the sauce.

Once the meatballs are done, lower the heat to medium and add the onions for the sauce to the pot, adding about 1 tablespoon of olive oil if needed, plus a pinch of salt. Sweat the onions, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan as the onions become soft and release some liquid. Once the onions are translucent, add in the garlic, and cook for about 60 seconds. Add in the tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook until the tomato paste becomes a rusty-red color, about 1-2 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, stir to combine, and add a pinch of salt. Bring the sauce to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and add in the meatballs plus any juices collected on the sheet pan/plate. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Taste for seasoning before building your sandwiches.

Preheat the broiler, split your sandwich rolls, place on a sheet pan, and toast lightly under the broiler. Top rolls with a few meatballs, mozzarella, and parmesan. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly, remove from under the broiler and scatter with some torn or shredded basil. Serve hot and melty! [/recipe]

I was compensated by Le Creuset & Williams Sonoma for the development of this recipe. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.