pumpkingnocchiIn our house, "Gnocchi" means "I love you".

The time invovled in making the pillowy mixture is minimal, but it is the act of cutting each strip to just the right width...chopping bite sized dumplings and then rolling each one delicately across the ridges of a fork - those repetative moves of delicious intent translates so purely to my husband as he savours one gnocchi at a time.

I have made several verisons of Gnocchi, using potatoes and even squash. Though in keeping with the season of pumpkins and fall delight, I am pleased with this version. The sage and shallots carry a certain melody throughout the dish that can only be thought of as fall.

For a vegetarian, this is the perfect Thanksgiving meal.

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TARTAPPLE sliceThis past weekend, it was a bit cold. After Levi’s flag football game, I came home, grabbed 4 cooking magazines and got under the covers. I earmarked half of each issue and not only did I read each and every one of them but I spent almost the entire next day in the kitchen.

I had been going back and forth on what desserts I was going to make this upcoming holiday season and although I have a few favorites, I was really hoping for something new. What I loved most about this tart (aside from the crust – because it is more of a cookie rather than a doughy crust) is that I sometimes find apple “pies” way too tart or too runny.

This had the texture of a Clafoutis, but didn’t taste as eggy as some I have eaten in the past. Eli topped this off with a scoop of our Cinnamon Ice Cream and he could, literally, not stop moaning. I think he ate 90% of this and he would proudly admit it, if asked.

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roastpearsI am an impatient person. I hate to wait. While some of the pears my mother gave me from her trees are ripe, others are not. Is there something you can do with not quite ripe pears? Yes! I discovered you can roast them.

Pears are sometimes added to savory dishes to add juice and moisture, or to make a sauce. My idea with this recipe was to make a side dish, something that could be served with pork chops, roast chicken, pork tenderloin, sausages, tossed with salad greens, on top of a pizza or maybe even used in a sandwich. Most recipes for roast pears call for pear halves or quarters, but dicing them just means they cook faster. You could also include pears with potatoes, parsnips, onions, beets or other similar vegetables that are good for roasting.

I really love the silky texture of cooked pears. The flavor intensifies too, which is why pears are so good in cakes and tarts. But you can get the same texture and flavor by roasting pears without baking them in a batter or crust. Necessity is the mother of invention and my mother's prolific pear trees accounts for the plethora of pear recipes I've created. Currently I'm really enjoying maple roasted pears with oatmeal or yogurt, but as the season progresses I'm sure I'll find even more ways to use them.

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ImageI stopped at two grocery stores today and both were completely out of Libby’s brand canned pumpkin. Years ago, when I first moved to Fargo, I had a young neighbor (we were both young at that time) who grew up in a small town not too far from Fargo. She often talked about the wonderful things her mom could whip up in the kitchen. Once, when we were discussing some kind of pumpkin dessert, this neighbor told me the only kind of canned pumpkin her mom would use was Libby’s. That was enough for me. I’ve been buying Libby’s ever since, except for the times I buy an organic brand of pumpkin. But today, with no Libby’s on the grocery store shelves, I wound up buying the store brand.

I used the store brand to whip up this pumpkin mousse. Guess what? It tastes perfectly delicious when mixed up with pumpkin spices, whipped cream and vanilla pudding.

I like to layer the creamy pumpkin mousse with crushed cookie crumbs. Today I pulled a box of Trader Joe’s Almond Butter Thins from my freezer. I crushed some of them in a large zip-top plastic bag, using my fist as a hammer. In the past, I’ve used ginger snaps in the parfaits. But, I think I’m sold on the Almond Butter Thins.

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squash.jpgIf you've never had spaghetti squash before, you're in for a surprise. It's called spaghetti squash for a reason—the vegetable's flesh resembles strands of spaghetti after it has been scraped away from the skin. With a mild sweet flavor, spaghetti squash pairs well with just about any dish and can be flavored in just about any way.

Once you've roasted the squash, the flavor customization is up to you. One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is simply seasoned with salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil. It's great as a base for meatballs. But this recipe goes a few steps further and includes some fall favorites, like dried cranberries and toasted hazelnuts. Enjoy it as an appetizer salad served warm or a cold side.

Now is the season for spaghetti squash. You'll find it sold among the other winter squashes, like butternut and acorn, in the market. Pick one up and make this super simple recipe. It's easy enough to make even on a busy weeknight.

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