Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fail Meal

I would like to start of by saying that I didn't shed a single tear with this disaster of a meal. I think I should get a sticker or a medal for that. I don't even think I swore once. Yay for rolling with the punches.

The menu for this meal was balsamic honey glazed carrots, roasted sweet dumpling squash, and apple sausage with gnocci in butter sauce. It sounds like a nice meal doesn't it?

Problem #1: Gnocci

I made the gnocci from scratch using this recipe at Iowa Girl Eats. I had made the gnocci, or soft potato dumplings about two weeks ago. I tested a few by boiling and pan frying up a single serving. They tasted wonderful, but I forgot to snap a pic. I figured, no problem, I'll freeze the rest, as the recipe states, and take a picture for the blog when I make up the leftovers.

So I boiled the frozen gnocci. Once the dumplings floated to the top I carefully scooped them out and placed them gently into a strainer. Then, I emptied the contents of the strainer into a nice hot skillet. Um. That's not supposed to happen. My gnocci had turned into mashed potatoes. All that work. Down. The. Drain. Ugh. I heated the mess up on the skillet so that it got a bit crispy, sort of like a potato pancake. At least it still tasted good. I definitely won't be making gnocci ever again. Maybe I'll buy the premade stuff, but probably not.

Problem #2: Carrots

I've roasted carrots in the oven before. How could I go wrong with Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots? I found the recipe on Kalyn's Kitchen. The original recipe called for Agave, but I've always thought agave and honey were interchangeable. Maybe that was where the problem lied. Maybe it was because I cooked the squash in the oven at the same time as the carrots and there was too much steam? All I know is the carrots would NOT caramelize. They cooked but refused to brown, even after an hour.

Because the carrots didn't that nice crispy outside, they were somewhat lacking in taste. They were OK, but nothing fabulous. Steamed carrots with Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle, Fines Herbs and butter would have been easier, and tastier. I'll stick with that the next time we are going to have cooked carrots.

Problem #3: Sweet Dumpling Squash

This was the only recipe that turned out how it was supposed to. Check out the recipe from Dreamy Dish.For those of you unfamiliar with the variety of squash called "Sweet dumpling," above is a photo. They are slightly bigger than half an acorn squash, at least the ones at my grocery store. Maybe we have mutant acorn squash?

I had never heard of Sweet Dumpling squash until I saw them at the store. They were on sale a few weeks before Halloween and I thought it would be nice to try one. In the meantime, it made a nice festive fall decoration on the dining room table. Well, at least there was that.

See, I was under the impression that the squash would taste different than an acorn squash. Everything I read about them said they tasted sweeter. I could NOT tell the difference. I don't hate acorn squash, I'm just not the biggest fan ever. I will eat it, but I get tired of it in large doses.

Half of a sweet dumpling squash is supposed to be a serving size. I think Mrblocko and I got sick of it after about half way through our serving, even with all its buttery, syrupy, brown sugary goodness.

I want to repeat that this wasn't bad, it tasted OK. When it comes to squash I still prefer spaghetti squash. I won't be making this dish again. If you are a squash-o-phile go for it. You're gonna love it.

Below is the whole meal all together:I think it looks nice. And, well, at least I didn't burn the sausages.

Gnocci from Iowa Girl Eats
1 pound Russet potatoes
1/2 cup flour, may need more
3 Tablespoons of 1 whisked egg
salt & pepper

ook potatoes until tender and mash until smooth. Whisk eggs and add 3 Tablespoons to the white potatoes. Add seasonings and stir until just combined. add 1/2 cup flour and kneed with your hands until just combined. If dough is too sticky, add a little more. Generously flour a clean, dry surface and knead the dough a couple times until it has come together in a ball. Cut the dough ball into quarters and roll each quarter into a long rope until it’s the width of your index finger. Using a floured knife, cut the rope into one inch sections. Hold a fork, curved side up with one hand and with the thumb of your other hand, gently roll the dough from the top of the curve, to the bottom, keeping your thumb in contact with the dough the whole time. Continue rolling your gnocchi until you’ve gone through the rest of the dough. Transfer to a freezer bag and store in the freezer for 4-6 months.

To cook: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season water with salt and add gnocchi. Cook until the gnocchi float to the top. Gently drain. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until light brown, ~30 seconds. Add gnocchi, salt & pepper, and sauté until golden brown.Serve immediately.

Roasted Carrots with Agave-Balsamic Glaze from Kalyn's Kitchen
1 lb. carrots peeled and cut into diagonal pieces the same thickness
1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 T Agave Nectar
olive oil for spraying roasting pan (or use non-stick spray)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425F. Peel carrots and cut off ends. If carrots are thin, cut into same-size diagonal slices. If carrots have a thicker end, cut off thick part and cut it vertically, then cut into diagonal slices. Carrot slices should be close to the same thickness. Mix balsamic vinegar and agave nectar with a small whisk. Spray flat roasting pan with olive oil or non-stick spray, then arrange carrots in a single layer. Use a pastry brush to brush about 2/3 the agave-balsamic mixture on the carrots.

Roast carrots about 20 minutes, then use a metal turner to turn them and brush with remaining agave-balsamic mixture. Roast ten minutes more, then turn again and check for doneness. Continue to roast until carrots are fork-tender and lightly browned, not quite ten minutes more for me in my toaster oven. Watch them carefully during the final roasting time because they can go from nicely browned to overly done fairly quickly. Grind over desired amount of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve hot.

Sweet Dumpling Squash from dreamy dish
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut squash in half, and remove seeds and extra bits with a spoon. Turn upside down, and poke holes in skin with a fork. Turn it back over, and place each half into a baking dish filled with an inch or so of water. In each squash half, put following ingredients, sprinkling spices on top edge, too.

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Bake uncovered or 40-45 min, til tender.


  1. You're going to have to come to the store with me and show me what spaghetti squash looks like. a gourd is a gourd is a gourd.....

  2. Here is a link to a good picture of a spaghetti squash:

    When in doubt go for the one with the sticker on it. Sometimes they even have cooking suggestions/directions on them!

  3. Did you use the balsamic vinegar with the carrots? The combination of that plus the agave produced a nice browning effect for me, but I didn't cook anything else in the oven with it.

  4. Yeah I did use the balsamic with the carrots. I don't know what happened. You'd think it would have turned nice and golden brown and yummy looking. Guess I just had bad kitchen juju that day or something!


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