Best Home Cook winner Dina Deleasa shows off her tasty dishes

PIX11 Morning News
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New Jersey food blogger, Dina Deleasa, just beat out hundreds of other foodies to win the Hallmark Channel’s “Best Home Cook” contest. Now she’s sharing some of her recipes with us. For more of her recipes, visit her blog Dish It Girl.

Apple Pies Baked in Apple
Apple, Caramelized Onion and Cheese Soup

Fall Panzanella

• 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil divided
• 1/4 cup pancetta diced
• 1 cup carrots shredded
• 3 cups brussels sprouts finely chopped or shredded
• 1/4 cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup sour dough bread cut or torn into cubes or one inch pieces
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
• 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
• 2 Tbsp shallots chopped
• 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
• Salt
• Pepper

1. Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Whisk to combine, and set aside.
1. In a large frying pan or skillet heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Then add the pancetta and saute it until it begins to brown.
2. Then add the brussels sprouts, and carrots to the pan. Stir everything to coat it with the oil/fat from the pancetta. sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Let everything saute together for about 12 minutes. You will see the brussels sprouts beginning to brown in places.
3. Add in the cranberries and squeeze a half of a lemon over the mixture, stir to incorporate. Then let the mixture saute for another 5 minutes.
4. Pour the contents of the pan into a large bowl. Let it cool off a little bit as you work with the bread.
5. In the same pan add a 1/2 of a Tablespoon of olive oil, and then add the cubes of bread. After 3-5 minutes the bread will start to brown, make sure not to turn it into burnt toast! Once the bread is brown and a bit crispy transfer it to the bowl with the brussels sprout mixture.
6. Pour the dressing over the panzanella salad, toss and make sure the salad is coated. Then serve! P.S.- it is also good the next day if you have any leftovers!

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Lasagna
• 1 large butternut squash (about 3 lb.), halved lengthwise and seeded
(or if you can find it already peeled and cut up in the grocery store that is fine too!)
• 3 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
• 2 sprigs fresh thyme plus 2 tsp. chopped leaves
• 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 5 Tbs. unsalted butter
• 2 sprigs fresh sage plus 1 tsp. chopped leaves (perhaps more for garnish)
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 cups whole milk
• 1-1/4 cups crumbled fresh goat cheese (4 oz.)
• 1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano (2 oz.)
• 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/4 cup coarse dry breadcrumbs or panko
• 1lb of Lasagne noodles cooked according to packaged directions

Roast the squash and garlic

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.
Put the squash cut side up on a large, heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet. Put 1 garlic clove and 1 sprig of thyme in each cavity. Drizzle each half with 1 tsp. of the oil and then season each with 1/4 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast until the squash is browned in spots and very tender when pierced with a skewer, fork, or toothpick, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Discard the thyme sprigs. Peel the garlic and put in a large bowl. Scoop the squash flesh from the skins and add it to the garlic. Mash with a fork until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
Goat cheese and sage sauce
Melt 4 Tbs. of the butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage sprigs and cook until the butter is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the sage. Add the flour and whisk until smooth and golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in the goat cheese, 1/2 cup of the pecorino, the nutmeg, 1 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Set aside 1-1/2 cups of the sauce and mix the rest with the mashed squash.

Season the breadcrumbs

Melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter in a small skillet over medium heat. In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, chopped sage, chopped thyme, a pinch of salt, and few grinds of pepper. Add the melted butter and mix well.
Assemble and bake the lasagna
Spread 1/2 cup of the reserved cheese sauce over the bottom of a 9x13x3-inch baking dish. Cover the sauce with a slightly overlapping layer of cooked noodles, cutting them as needed to fill any gaps. Spread 1 cup of the squash mixture evenly over the noodles. Add another layer of noodles and repeat the layers as instructed above, to make a total of 4 squash layers and 5 pasta layers. Spread the remaining 1 cup cheese sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup pecorino.
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top is browned and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Baked Mini Apple Pies

• 4 large baking apples, tops sliced off and insides scooped out
• 2 tbsp. butter
• 1 tbsp. cinnamon
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 Tbsp brown sugar
• 1 sheet refrigerated pie crust (or homemade)
• 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. water
• Sugar, for sprinkling
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Chop insides of the four apples and add them to a medium saucepan with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, 15 minutes.
2. Roll out pie crust into a large rectangle and cut into thin 1/4″-thick strips. Stuff apples with cooked apple mixture and transfer to a glass baking dish. Arrange pie crust strips over apples, crisscrossing to create a lattice crust. Trim edges and brush pie crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar and bake until apples are soft and bubbly and pie crust golden, 35 minutes.
3. Drizzle with brown sugar caramel and serve.

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