Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Salad

butternut squash and wild rice salad, striped spatula

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I’m such a fan of Autumn.  Between the crisp air, the vibrant hues, and the new crop of seasonal produce popping up at the farm market, what’s not to love? I tend to go heavy on squash dishes this time of year.  With so many delicious varieties to choose from, it’s hard not to be excited.  Like many, my “go-to” is butternut, but I sometimes tire of the usual flavor profile that accompanies it.  Don’t get me wrong: nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, and sage are all wonderful.  The flavors are familiar and comforting.  Sometimes, though, I crave something different and creative to awaken my tastebuds.  Last week, this Roasted Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Salad did just that.

tiny red onionscut butternut squash, cilantro

While I’m not someone who follows a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, I do love good meatless meals.  Well-composed vegetable dishes have so many interesting flavors and textures to explore.  As far as I’m concerned, delicious food is just that: delicious.  (This has always been my approach to eating in general: it’s all about flavor.  I choose foods that taste good to me, and allow myself to enjoy everything in moderation.  It’s a win-win when “what tastes good” has numerous nutritional benefits, like this salad.  By the same token, when I’m out to dinner and that Salted Caramel/Chocolate Chantilly Napoleon is winking at me from the dessert menu, it’s a safe bet that I’m going to have a taste of that too.)

butternut squash, cubed and seasonedseasoned red onions for roasting

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Cider Doughnut Muffins

cider doughnut muffins, striped spatula

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If I had to pick just one Fall treat to enjoy from the first day of the season to the last, Apple Cider Doughnuts would win, hands down.  ‘Tis the season where pumpkin spice everything reigns supreme, I know, but there’s nothing in the world like warm cider doughnuts.  Lightly-spiced and enrobed in a light, crunchy coating of cinnamon-sugar, willpower doesn’t stand a chance in their presence.  In a perfect world, my kitchen would be equipped with some sort of “Doughnuts on Demand” button so things like pajamas and uncoiffed hair wouldn’t stand between me and doughnut glory.  Alas, such conveniences don’t exist.  What’s a girl to do for a last-minute craving on a Sunday morning?  Make Cider Doughnut Muffins!

apple cider, flour, sugar, butter, eggs, spicesbubbling apple cider

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Pork Loin Braised in Milk and Cream

pork loin braised in milk and cream, striped spatula

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I need to start wearing my glasses.  Last week, I glanced at a package that had been delivered to my front door and was sure that the return label said, “Pork Loin.”  I was exuberant for a second thinking that someone might’ve gifted me a fabulous cut of heirloom pork (I mean, really, how amazing a gift would that be?).  Alas, the shipment, sent from a warehouse on Polk Lane, contained only the new kitchen towels and a cookbook I had ordered.  Of course, the misread put the notion of pork into my head, and soon the cravings were too much to ignore.  Seeing as October is “National Pork Month” (I wasn’t aware of this until recently, but am more than happy to jump on the “Porktober” bandwagon), it’s a good time to talk pork loin.  More specifically, Pork Loin Braised in Milk and Cream, a.k.a, one of the best pork recipes your tastebuds will ever meet.

lemons, sage, milk

Truth be told, I’ve cooked (and choked my way through) my fair share of dry, bland pork dishes.  It happens, even with the best of intentions.  Pork is a meat that, depending on the cut and cooking method, can be easy to overcook.  Traditional slow-cooking methods usually do the trick for larger cuts like shoulders, which are heavenly, but I’m not always in the mood for shredded, fall-apart meat.  A few years ago, feeling somewhat lukewarm about the pork loin I was about to pop in the oven, I stumbled upon the Northern Italian method of milk-braising.  With reviews across multiple recipes emphatically declaring it the best! pork! ever!, I decided to retire my roasting pan for the afternoon and give it a try.  Three hours, and one bite later, I was hooked.

tied pork loin and ribs

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Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion, striped spatula

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Some of the best meals I’ve made (and eaten) have been collaborative efforts.  My yen to cook with others started young.  Whether I was helping my mother to assemble cream puffs, filling pans of madeleines, or prepping chicken milanese, the food, and the time we spent making it, was an expression of love.  Cooking solo is fun in its own right, but when other people join you in the kitchen, memories are made.  A few weekends ago, we did just this when our dear friend, Linda, visited to show me how to make Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion.

san marzano tomatoes

I’ve read great things about Hazan’s recipe over the years (it’s become something of a staple in the food blogosphere), but never got around to trying it.  As someone who has always made marinara sauce with sautéed garlic and olive oil, the idea of swapping them out for butter and raw onions (Not even chopped! No tears!) hadn’t occurred to me.  I always wondered if Hazan’s recipe would have the same depth of flavor that I craved in homemade sauce.  When Linda mentioned having made this sauce with a crop of fresh San Marzano tomatoes to rave reviews from her family, I knew that I had to give it a try.  I was thrilled when she agreed to come over (with her beautiful supply of tomatoes!) to make the sauce for the blog.

Blanching the tomatoes until split

plum tomatoes in ice water

peeling plum tomatoes
 

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