Autumn Winesweekend

It’s Winesday! Officially the best day of the week, and officially a week since I’ve written. Sorry about that, but I’ve just been so busy and not quite in the mood to write 😦 Anyway, who says you can’t celebrate Winesday any day of the week? Winesday is more of an attitude than a specific day, and besides, a good friend of mine was visiting from out-of-state so we had to delay this particular celebration-hence the Winesweekend.

The Wine

  • Red Sangria with just a hint of spice. For this particular sangria, you’ll need a really light and fruity red wine that is good chilled. My favorite wine to use comes from San Sebastian Winery in St Augustine, FL, and it tastes like absolute heaven on its own. It’s very sweet so it works well in sangria. Once you select the right wine, you’ll also need triple sec, a simple syrup (cooked sugar and water), cinnamon, and cut fruit. (Don’t worry, I’ll put up a separate post on how to make this).

The Entree

  • Rachel Ray’s amazing nachos with butternut squash queso. Perhaps because I’m writing this at lunch time or perhaps because they were just that delicious, I can’t stop thinking about them now. These are great because they’re hearty enough to make a meal out of, but I can’t guarantee any leftovers. Besides, who wants to eat leftover nachos?

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 4 servings

For the Queso

  • 1 medium butternut squash peeled and chopped, or 1-2 packages of already-cut squash
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander (this is an expensive spice, so if you don’t already have it and don’t want to spend, don’t worry about it-it’s still delicious without it)
  • 1 Tbsp of seeded, pureed canned chipolte in adobo (you can puree the whole can and freeze the remainder in a sandwich bag; you’ll be able to slice what you need from the frozen chipolte in the future)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil (or EVOO as Ms. Rachel likes to call it)
  • Nutmeg
  • Food processor, blender, or electric hand-mixer

For the Nachos

  • 1 can spicy vegetarian refried beans
  • 1 bag blue corn tortilla chips (or other high-quality tortilla chips)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Toppings such as jalepeno slices, chopped red onion, sliced fresh avocado, diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro
  • Large casserole dish

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place the butternut squash pieces in a casserole dish or shallow pan, and drizzle the pieces with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the pieces for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
  3. Saute the carrot, onion, and garlic with olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Season the items with salt, pepper, cumin, and if using, coriander, and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, 10-12 minutes.
  4. Place the sauted veggies and the roasted squash in a food processor, blender, or mixing bowl, and add the pureed chipole, and veggie stock. Puree until very smooth, and set aside.
  5. Melt the butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and cook for 1 minute. Next, whisk in the milk, and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Add the cheese, and continue to stir until melted. Add the pureed vegetables to the pan, and adjust the heat and seasoning if necessary.
  6. Preheat the broiler, and heat the vegetarian refried beans. Add 1/3-1/2 cup water to thin the beans out. Arrange the tortilla chips in a large casserole dish, and pour the refried beans evenly over them. Sprinkle the black beans over the chips and refried beans. Top with butternut squash queso, and broil the dish until the edges have browned and the tortilla chips are crisp. Add toppings, including plenty of avocado, and enjoy! Then…enjoy seconds, thirds, etc…

Recipe from Rachel Ray.  

The Dessert

  • Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart. I discussed this tart in an earlier post, but this was the meal I originally made it for. It’s best when strawberries are in season, in the early to mid-summer, but it’s also a perfectly sweet and light ending to an overly indulgent meal (i.e. too many nachos).

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