Sunday, November 4, 2012

Halloween Party Recipe Roundup

I just wrote a long and thoughtful post about the Halloween party I threw last Saturday, and then Blogger decided to delete it. So instead I will cut to the chase and post recipes for my two favorite dishes from that party.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • mozzarella string cheese
  • olive oil
  • 2 jars tomato sauce

  1. Combine everything except cheese, oil, and sauce in a bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. It's very satisfying. And gross.
  2. Form mixture into 1.5" to 2" balls.
  3. Cut string cheese into cubes. Put one cheese cube inside each meatball, and then reform meat to seal it in.
  4. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet. I used cast iron. For flavor!
  5. Brown meatballs on all sides in the oil, taking care not to horribly disfigure yourself from oil burns.
  6. Set aside browned meatballs, and pour tomato sauce into the skillet and bring to a simmer.
  7. Add meatballs back into the sauce, cover, and let simmer until cooked through (about 30 minutes).
  8. Enjoy delicious meatballs.
As you can see in my photographic representation of the final dish, I used tons of sauce. You can probably used less, but the sauce was really good, so the more the merrier. Also, some the cheese managed to escape its meaty prison, but as the old saying goes, "Cheese tastes delicious, whether inside meatballs or out." You know that old saying, right?

Butternut Squash Pie

  • 1 (or 2) unbaked and chilled pie shell(s)
  • 1/2 cup pureed butternut squash, about the yield of a small to medium squash
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • a dash of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Cooking the squash:
  1. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. The squash is tough and does not wish to be rent asunder, so be careful not to injure yourself trying to divide this thing. Take it slow and easy.
  2. Remove seeds, and then place squash halves facedown on a cooking pan lined with greased foil, to facilitate cleanup, as the cooked squash will tend to stick. 
  3. Pour 1/2 cup water into the bottom of the pan, cover loosely, then cook at 400°F for about 55 minutes, or until squash is tender. 
  4. Scoop cooked squash out of its skin and puree with an immersion blender (or your preferred method of squash squashing). 
  5. Set aside 1/2 cup of pureed squash. Save the rest for eating with some butter and salt, maybe. 
Assembling the pie:
  1. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine squash and brown sugar and beat with an electric mixer until combined. 
  3. Add eggs, evaporated milk, spices, salt, flour, butter, and vanilla, and beat until well blended. Note that all the spice proportions can be modified based on your tastes, but trust me when I say this pie was hella good the way I made it. 
  4. Pour filling into pie shell. I ended up having enough filling for two 9-inch shells, so I made two not-entirely-full pies. If you have a bigger shell you might be able to use all your filling on one pie, but since the shells usually come in sets of two, I recommend just making two pies. 
  5. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until filling is set. After 35 minutes, I checked the pies and put crust protectors around the edges to keep the crusts from burning. If you don't have the fancy silicon crust protectors my dad bought, you can fashion some out of tin foil. Just be careful not to burn yourself on hot pie. 
  6. When filling is set, remove from oven, allow to cool, then enjoy some pie. 

These pies were fantastic. I decided to make them because I was once told you could substitute butternut squash for pumpkin in a pumpkin pie recipe, and that fact intrigued me. Making pumpkin pie from scratch was an odious ordeal that I never intend to repeat. Fresh pumpkin is not worth the trouble when canned pumpkin tastes just as good. It's all about the spices, anyway. But the butternut squash was easy to cook, and it really tasted excellent.

So there you go, dear readers, maybe try out these recipes at a holiday party. You won't be disappointed!

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