Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

birthday cake! (#301)

Happy Birthday to Me! 

Of course, when you find yourself to be the typical baker in your group of friends / family your own Birthday cake can be a bit tricky. In my case, I'm used to having other people tell me what they want. Val wanted something that was low-carb, and Liz didn't want anything chocolate, and you catch my drift. So first, I had to decide what I wanted. Then I had to find some recipes. My mom offered to make the cake, as long as I provided the recipes. I decided that I wanted something with a salted caramel frosting, but I didn't like any of the recipes I found. 

I ended up having her halve the recipe on this Chocolate cake recipe, and double the recipe on a traditional buttercream frosting. All the Salted Caramel Buttercream recipes I found just listed proportions for making the caramel sauce straight away, and I had already made the caramel sauce. She ended up adding a pint jar of salted caramel that I had made earlier in the weekend. It was delicious. It was fairly salty the first night, and after that it just got saltier. I was fine with this, but I recognize that not everyone shares my undying love of sea salt. Mmmm, salty and sweet, my favorite. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

First Food of Fall - Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta

The last couple of weeks at the farmer's market I've been resisting the squash. There's a long winter full of squashy things ahead of me, and best to get a last few dishes out of the tomatoes and eggplants and zucchini. I finally gave up the fight this week. It's been feeling like fall finally, and so there was only one thing left to do: Butternut Squash Pasta.

I first made this with Kelly in Syracuse, and it's been a favorite of mine ever since then. Roasting the squash, onions and bacon all together gives it this flavor that's indescribably good. Nothing ever goes wrong when caramelized onions are involved. And the squash gets all soft and slightly roasted. Plus once the squash is peeled the whole thing comes together really quickly. If you are opposed to bacon for some reason, it could easily be left out. Though I think you would seriously be missing out.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Pasta
(from Kelly at Nerd in the Kitchen)

1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 medium onion, diced
4 strips of bacon, diced
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
1 lb. of pasta (rigatoni / penne / farfalle)
1.5 cups of the pasta water
1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese grated

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

2. Cube the squash into pieces no larger than 1″. Distribute the squash, onion, and bacon on a baking sheet. Lightly coat with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Put in the oven for 25 minutes, turning the squash about halfway through.

3. While the squash is cooking, boil the pasta. When the pasta is done, drain it, but reserve about 1.5 cups of the pasta water. Pour the pasta back into the now-empty pot.

4. When the squash is tender and the onions have caramelized, pour the baking sheet contents into the pot with the pasta. Add the Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the pasta water. Mix until the cheese is melted and the squash is combined. Add water is needed.