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]

 

Romano & Sage Biscuits

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Let’s talk biscuit love, okay? My love for biscuits runs deep…but, I have to admit I didn’t find this love until a few years ago. See, my biscuit experiences were few and far between before I started cooking for myself. We just didn’t grow up with warm and fluffy biscuits and really, it’s a shame. But, now I’m making up time and make biscuits at least once a month, if not more.

I mean, biscuits are the perfect, carb-y vehicle for all sorts of goodness and these Romano and Sage Biscuits are definitely a favorite this time of year. In these cooler months I like to pack as much sage into my food as possible, I love it! It just tastes of the season…and, you can’t ever go wrong with adding cheese to things. Just can’t. These particular biscuits are savory, petite, and tender. They would make perfect little two-bite leftover sandwiches for that big turkey-centric holiday coming up, or even the perfect foil for some sausage gravy. Biscuit Heaven. Speaking of biscuit-sandiwch-love, check out this post I did for my friends at Betty & Bisquick for a Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich Bar. There are sandwich ideas, as well as easy decor and craft ideas. I’m shameless, I know…but that green bean stacked biscuit-wich is so dang good, you guys should know about it.

[recipe]

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Romano & Sage Biscuits

Adapted from this recipe. 

I REALLY like sage, so I did 3 tablespoons, if you are lukewarm about it, definitely reduce the amount. I also used a mini biscuit cutter for these, but any size is fine. Larger biscuits will take a minute or two more of bake time. 

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 scant teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed

2-3 tablespoons chopped, fresh sage

heaping 1/3 cup grated romano cheese

1/4 cup cream

3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender or fingers, quickly cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, with a few pea-sized lumps of butter throughout. Toss in the sage and romano to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the cream and milk. Stir gently until the liquid is just incorporated and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead a few times (5-ish) to form a dough and pat into a 1/2 inch round. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place on prepared baking sheets. Gather the scraps and cut out remaining biscuits. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes or until puffed and golden on the bottoms. Best served warm. [/recipe]

Herbed Turkey Burgers with Goat Cheese and Cranberry Sauce

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Guess what?

I pretty much make dinner 7 nights a week. For real. It’s not always fancy, or meaty, or exciting in the least. Sometimes it’s just whatever is wasting away in the crisper drawer combined with rice, sweet or regular potatoes, pasta, or tortillas. I just love a carb-y vehicle to drive the food home (in this case, home is my mouth).

I take the weekends as a cue to make something fun and exciting. I test out recipes I’ve had pinned, bookmarked, or have schemed up. A couple of weekends ago, it was rich and delicious chicken pot pie. The next weekend, fried chicken sandwiches with extra pickles. This past weekend, it was these amazeballs turkey burgers.

Yeah, man…they were amazeballs.  That wasn’t even a typo.

I mean, it’s a burger. We’re burger fanatics in this house. It doesn’t really matter what kind of patty it is…we’re totally into bean burgers, as well as the classic beef, and we’ve even been known to love a pork or chicken burger. Ground turkey is always a lean and easy to find option, but it can be dry and bland.

I try to jazz  up  turkey burgers with lots of herbs (sage & rosemary) and aromatics (onions & garlic), and ensure juiciness with a little greek yogurt. Then, there’s the bun and the toppings, which cannot be ignored. In this case it was my favorite Light Brioche bun, some soft goat cheese, lemony cranberry sauce, spinach (for some green), and some grainy mustard. It was pretty much Thanksgiving on a burger and it was love.

What kind of burger are you in love with?

Herbed Turkey Burgers with Goat Cheese and Cranberry Sauce

This burger is a meal in and of itself, but it’s totally appropriate to serve with a side of sweet potato fries.

Cranberry Sauce

12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2-3/4 cup sugar (to taste)

zest of 1 lemon

juice of one lemon

3/4 cup water

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and cook until cranberries burst, give off their juice, and thicken (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve if desired. Pour into a heatproof jar and allow to cool. Refrigerate. Will thicken as it cools.

Turkey Burger

1/2 medium onion, diced fine

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh sage

2 teaspoons minced, fresh rosemary

1 pound lean, ground turkey

1 egg

2 tablespoons greek yogurt

3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

salt and pepper to taste

goat cheese, grainy mustard, and spinach leaves to serve

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, sweat onions and garlic. Once onions become translucent, add sage and rosemary and saute another minute. Do not brown or the garlic may burn. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl combine ground turkey, egg, yogurt, breadcrumbs, and cooled onion/herb mixture. Mix gently to combine. Divide meat into 4 sections and shape into patties (about 1/4-1/2 inch thick), making a shallow well in the center. Refrigerate patties for 20 minutes to firm up.

Heat a heavy skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle patties liberally with salt and pepper, cook, flipping only once, for about 4 minutes on each side. Top with goat cheese, add a splash of water to the pan (1 tablespoon is good) and cover until liquid evaporates. This will soften the cheese, but not melt it since goat cheese doesn’t really melt. Place burgers on toasted buns with mustard and spinach, top with cranberry sauce.

Light Wheat Brioche Buns

I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat and regular whole wheat flour. You can use whatever you like or just use bread flour.

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

 

3/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons warm milk

2 teaspoons dry yeast

2 tablespoons honey

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature

poppy seeds or sesame seeds for sprinkling

1 egg + i tablespoon cream for egg wash

Measure out warm water and milk into a glass measuring cup. Stir in honey and then yeast. Allow to rest 5 minutes until foamy.

Lightly beat the egg in a small dish and set aside.

In a stand mixer, whisk together flours and salt. Rub butter into flour mixture with your fingertips. Mix in the yeast and water mixture, as well as the egg. Knead with the dough hook for 5 minutes. The dough will pull from the sides of the bowl and form a ball, the dough ball should be tacky to the touch. Rise, covered with plastic for 1-2 hours until doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll into balls. Place the dough portions on a parchemnet lined baking sheet and cover loosely, allow to rise another hour.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Whisk together egg and cream, brush the tops of the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds. Bake buns in the center of the oven for 15 minutes. The buns should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Allow to cool on a cooling rack. Buns can be baked and frozen in a resealable plastic bag for use later.  Just defrost for 1-2 hours on the counter, or overnight in the refrigerator.