Gameday Gourmet Butternut Squash Pizza

2013-10-20 19.12.26-2As promised, here is this week’s gameday recipe for an exciting weekend of games. I love this recipe because it’s a great way to use a healthy fall gourd that is abundant this time of year; we all know how much I love fall ingredients! Also, goat cheese of boring old mozzarella. So feel free to impress all of your football fanatic friends with this gourmet ‘za, or, if you’re like me and hate to share something so delicious, keep it all to yourself.

Gameday Gourmet Butternut Squash Pizza

  • basic pizza dough
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss squash with 1 teaspoon oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. On a baking sheet, cook squash until soft and lightly browned, 25 minutes, stirring halfway through; set aside.

2013-10-20 18.27.51Turn out prepared pizza dough onto lightly floured baking sheet or pizza pan and mold into desired shape. Let rest for 10 minutes. While dough is resting, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Cook onion (season with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper), stirring, until light brown, 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water; cook, stirring, until brown, 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

2013-10-20 18.57.39Sprinkle pizza dough with squash, onion, and cheese. Place baking sheet or pizza pan into the oven and bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is slightly golden brown in spots, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice (carefully!) and serve.



Goat Cheese Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates

2013-11-27 20.15.22When I am entertaining guests, I like to go all out — appetizers are a must. These are a classic crowd-pleaser that, while relatively simple to make, are so wonderfully complex and rich in flavor. The saltyness of the bacon wrapped around the sweet, chewy date and creamy goat cheese – c’est magnifique! These are also some of my mom’s favorites, so you know they must be good 😉

Goat Cheese Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates

  • 16 Medjool Dates (you can get them pre-pitted or whole; I love the ones from Trader Joe’s with the pits still in)
  •  Goats Cheese (simple and plain works well)
  •  8 slices of thick-cut bacon
  •  Toothpicks

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Pit dates by cutting halfway down one side and separating the flaps; simply grab the pit and pull it out with your fingers. Stuff the now-empty center of the date with goat cheese. I find that using my fingers works fine for this step if the goat cheese is still cool and relatively solid. If your cheese is softer, you can also choose to pipe the goat cheese into the date by cutting the corner off the cheese package or putting it in a ziploc baggie, trimming off the corner of the baggie.

After you’ve added the cheese, close up the date (don’t worry if there is some cheese spilling out; in my opinion, the more cheese the better!) Cut bacon slices in half. Wrap each date in half a slice of bacon and secure by skewering all the way through with a toothpick.

Place the dates on a foil lined pan or a broiler pan (the foil makes cleanup a breeze; I can’t stand trying to scrub off baked-on grease). Also, make sure your dates are evenly spaced to ensure even cooking and even browning. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping half-way though. At the 15 minute mark, watch the dates carefully. The exact cooking time depend on the size of your dates and the thickness of your bacon; you will want to cook them until the bacon is slightly crispy on the edges.

2013-11-27 20.14.40Remove from oven and immediately place the dates on a paper towel-lined plate or basket. This will soak up any extra grease and allow the dates to cool. Wait a few minutes before eating, if you can resist! The insides will be quite hot. Feel free to share with friends — or not, the choice is yours. 🙂