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by Sarah Steimer

I'm not that into casseroles. The name isn't even appealing. And I always picture a dish full of soupy cream of mushroom with cauliflower floating in it. But this is a genius spin on that horrible imagery.

I’m not that into casseroles. The name isn’t even appealing. And I always picture a dish full of soupy cream of mushroom with cauliflower floating in it. But this is a genius spin on that horrible imagery.

  • 1 small-ish spaghetti squash, cooked (makes approximately 4 cups)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup ricotta (8 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup packed, chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic. minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 uncooked sausages (I used spicy turkey sausage), cases removed
  • 1 small head kale, stems removed and chopped into ribbons
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Whisk together and egg white, ricotta, parsley, red pepper, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.

In a large pan (preferably with high sides), heat enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Saute the onions and garlic until they are translucent. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking up the meat and cook.

Add the crushed tomato, kale and season with salt. Cover the pan and cook until the kale has wilted for 3-4 minutes. Add the cooked spaghetti squash.

Remove the pan from heat and add the ricotta mixture. Stir everything until well combined and transfer to an 8-by-8-inch or 9-by-9-inch baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan, breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, using your hands. Top the casserole with this breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle the top with olive oil.

Cook the casserole at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the top has turned golden brown.

Let the casserole cool for a few minutes before cutting into nine squares.

Makes about four servings.

Recipe adapted from: Everyday Maven

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by Sarah Steimer

Now that it’s getting colder out, I’m not as willing to venture out at a moment’s notice for dinner ingredients. On those sorts of evenings, I go to my favorite recipe websites and search for dishes that use ingredients I already have in the apartment. We hope you use our site the same way!

  • 1/2 pound pasta — I used whole-wheat spirals
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 pound sausage, casings removed
  • 2 medium/large parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 5-6 Swiss chard leaves, stems removed and chopped with the leaves (no reason to discard the stems!)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan, plus more to top

Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain the pasta and return to the pot, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage, breaking the meat up into smaller pieces, about 3 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer the sausage to the pasta.

Add the parsnips to the saute pan and cook until browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chard, seasoning with salt and pepper, and cook until wilted. Transfer this parsnip-chard mixture and the cheese to the pasta and toss, adding enough water to create a light sauce. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the pasta with the extra cheese, if you choose. Makes 2-3 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

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by Caitlin Saniga

These little guys are like savory cream puffs. In fact, you can use the choux puff pastry recipe for sweet cream puffs, too.

Start out by making the choux pastry puffs, as Martha Stewart calls them. This can be done up to two weeks in advance. Just make sure to store them in a sealed zip-top bag in the freezer. You’ll need:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large whole eggs
  • 1 large egg white
When you pipe out the pastry, it should be able to stand on its own in a pretty solid mound. See the pointed tips on each pastry here? They'll need to be smoothed down with a wet finger. At this consistency, the pastra will pretty much keep its shape.

When you pipe out the pastry, it should be able to stand on its own in a pretty solid mound. See the pointed tips on each pastry here? They'll need to be smoothed down with a wet finger. At this consistency, the pastry will pretty much keep its shape in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set them aside. Combine the butter, salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan, and place over medium heat. Cook until the butter is melted and the water just comes to a boil.

Remove from the heat, add flour, and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon. Return the pan to heat; cook, stirring constantly, until th emixture comes together and pulls

The "pastry" on the left came from my first batch. I used all of 3 large eggs, but it was too much, and the pastry was wetter and thinner than it should have been. When I piped it onto the baking sheet, it settled into a puddle. Careful with your consistency! You want the puffs to turn out like the one on the right.

The "puff" on the left came from my first batch. I used all of 3 large eggs, but it was too much, and the pastry was wetter and thinner than it should have been. When I piped it onto the baking sheet, it settled into a puddle. Careful with your consistency! You want the puffs to turn out like the one on the right.

away from the sides of the saucepan as you stir, about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously until they are completely incorporate and the pastry is smooth. (It might be best to break the third egg into a dish, split the yolk with a knife, and add it in spoonfuls to the mixture. You might not need to use all of the final egg to achieve the correct consistency.)

Transfer the pastry to a pastry bag fitted with a small coupler (or a zip-top bag with the corner cut off to form a small hole). Pipe about 1 tablespoon of the pastry into a mound on one of the prepared baking sheets. Continue piping until all the pastry is used, spacing pastry about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Combine the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush the top of each mound with the egg wash. Smooth any rough spot on the top with a water-dampened finger. Bake until the puffs are golden brown all over, about 30 minutes. (Start checking at 20 minutes.) Remove from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Next, make the sausage filling:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 ounces chicken or turkey sausage, casing removed (or pork sausage as a last resort)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook the mixture until the onions are transparent, about 4 minutes. Add the sausage, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until the sausage is cooked through, about 8 minutes.

The pastries are delicate, so use a small serrated knife to cut them crosswise. If the little "lid" doesn't sit squarely on top at the end, scoop out any pastry fluff to make more room. And if you can't find any red peppers at the store, play around with substitutions. I tried Parmesan cheese shavings on another batch, and they were quite good.

For assembly:

  • pastry puffs
  • sausage filling
  • 1 roasted red or orange bell pepper, cut into small strips (or roasted red pepper from a jar)
  • 1/4 cup big chunks of sliced green onion

Slice the pastry puffs crosswise. Spoon about 1 teaspoon sausage filling into the bottom half of each, add a piece or two of bell pepper and a couple pieces of green onion. Replace the top half of the puff. Transfer the profiteroles to a baking sheet, and bake until warm, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Makes about 30.

Recipe adapted from: The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook — The Original Classics

*Throughout December, “Merry and Bites” will feature finger foods with seasonal flair. All of them can be found here. Happy holidays!

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by Caitlin Saniga

You can eat this one for breakfast, too! Apples, sausage, cheese... come on! It's a great way to start the day.

You can eat this one for breakfast, too! Apples, sausage, cheese... come on! It's a great way to start the day.

  •  1 box (16 ounces) macaroni noodles
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces bulk sausage
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, core removed, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 Asian pear, peeled, core removed, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups provolone cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Heat a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Sprinkle a few shakes of salt over the boiling water, and add the pasta. Cook about 7 minutes (see package directions for specific cook time if you choose to go with a different pasta). Strain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet (the biggest one you have) over medium heat. Add the sausage and sage, and cook, breaking the sausage into tiny bits with a wooden spoon, until sausage browns, about 7 minutes. Transfer the sausage to the bowl, reserving the oils in the pan.

Add the apple and pear to the pan and cook over medium heat until they soften, 4-5 minutes. Transfer the fruit to the bowl, reserving any oil that’s left in the pan.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan, and cook over medium heat until they soften, about 4 minutes. At this point, add the butter to the pan. Once it melts, sprinkle the flour over the onions, and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken stock and milk, and bring to a simmer. Add cheeses, allspice, salt and pepper. Stir the mixture until the cheese is melted.

Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta, sausage and apples in the large bowl. Stir to combine.

Makes 8 servings.

*Throughout November, “Out of the Box” will guide you away from prepackaged mac and cheese and will feature oodles of our favorite recipes  — all of which can be found here.

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