I have to say, squash can seem like an intimidating vegetable. It’s big and awkward and has a tough outer shell. Have no fear though because cooking a squash is super simple. Just put it on a cookie sheet, stab it a few times with your favorite knife and pop it in the oven. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. After an hour that tough shell loosens to reveal a creamy, buttery center. Yum.
After you bake your squash, add lots of garlic, parmesan and a touch of cream then balance all of the savory flavors with a bit of sweet by adding some dried berries. This is an extremely easy recipe that’s dressed to impress. This smashed squash is unique enough to be a holiday side dish or simply served along side a casual entree, like these roasted chicken thighs. Do it. You know you want to.
Baked Butternut Squash with Garlic and Dried Berries
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Yields: Serves 6
1 small butternut squash (about 3-4 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley (or basil)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dried berries (I used cranberries and blueberries)
Preheat oven to 375F. Pierce squash a few times with sharp paring knife (to let steam escape). Bake squash for 60 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces easily through skin with little resistance. Let squash cool for 10 minutes.
Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove and discard the seeds. Peel the skin off and set aside. If the squash seem difficult to scrape, return the squash to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Heat a large saute pan with the butter and the garlic over medium-low heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add parsley, salt and squash. Toss well, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and taste to see if you need additional salt. Add the berries and serve hot with butter.
Recently my camera decided that it was done with close-ups of frying fish and low-lit photo sessions with pico de gallo and quit on me. I was using it and for some reason the lens will not retract back into the camera. In all fairness, my camera was never anything special, but now I don’t have anything to take photos of my food with.
In a sense it’s a blessing because now I can solely focus on cooking in the kitchen and enjoying what I eat instead of spending so much time trying to capture a decent photo while my food gets cold. Usually, Mister is already done eating by the time I get to the dinner table. Plus, Black Friday is right around the corner. Fingers crossed that I can find a good deal!
This image is courtesy of Skinny Taste. Here’s hoping that I will take photos like this some day with a brand new camera!
Okay, about the soup. It’s savory and delicious and completely filling. I took Skinny Taste’s original recipe and made it my own. Although I absolutely love her and her work, (and in my very humble opinion) I thought the original broth was lacking in flavor. It was probably the brand of chicken stock I used but I definitely had to add more seasoning to make this work for us. In the end it turned out really good! Mister even went back for seconds. Success!
We had quite a few bowls to eat as leftovers for the next few nights too. The first time I re-heated the soup I put it in a pot over high heat and sort of forgot about it. By the time I got back to the kitchen, some of my poor tortellinis began to unravel. After that first mishap, I brought the soup up to just before a boil (keeping a careful eye on it) and it re-heated just fine. Lesson learned.
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When melted, add the celery, onion, carrot and garlic. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.
Add the broth, water, and mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. When broth boils, add salt (to taste), black pepper, dried basil and Worcestershire; stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, simmer until mushrooms are soft, about 15 minutes. Add tortellini and cook according to package directions for al dente (usually around 3 minutes).
Once the tortellini is cooked, stir to combine and garnish with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano if desired.
There are a few signature aromas that say autumn to me – cinnamon apples, sage and squash and roasting chicken top my list. This chicken in particular doesn’t take a lot of work but it tastes like you spent all day roasting it. The juicy chicken cooks in its own juices and you can use these pan drippings to create an incredible sauce to drizzle on top of your chicken or on top of a big pile of mashed potatoes or vegetables.
Pan-roasting is such a beautiful method to achieve succulent, restaurant-quality chicken. Brown the meat first to get the skin nice and crispy and lock in all of the moisture inside of the meat. Then finish everything in the oven until your chicken reaches roasting nirvana. In less than an hour, you have delicious, tender chicken thighs that look like you’ve been slaving for hours.
Preheat oven to 450°. Pat chicken dry and season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12" cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium/medium-low; continue cooking skin side down, occasionally rearranging chicken thighs and rotating pan to evenly distribute heat, until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes.
Transfer skillet to oven and cook 13 more minutes. Flip chicken; continue cooking until skin crisps and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate; let rest 5 minutes before serving.
This is an easy apple crisp recipe that is a winner at any get together. Now, the word “easy” should be taken very lightly here. This recipe is easy in that you pretty much dump your apples in a pan, sprinkle on the crumb topping and bake. The steps are simple, but apple crisp requires (you guessed it) apples and getting your apples to an absolutely perfect state for baking is a bit more time consuming. It can feel tedious, but I like to peel my apples on the couch in front of the TV to help pass the time. Before I know it, I have a big bowl of peeled apples ready for the slicing and an episode of Doctor Who in the books.
Wow, can you believe that it’s November already? Where did this last month go? I’m going to have to think about Christmas shopping pretty soon. *shutters* Not my favorite activity. I’m impatient enough as it is, and when you throw in screaming children and long lines of people at the checkout counters, it gives me nightmares.
Anywho, let’s talk about more positive things… like chilly weather and comfort foods.
I made this vegetarian penne last weekend for my community symphony. This pasta is rich and not for the feint of heart, and absolutely perfect for feeding many hungry mouths. It’s packed with lots of vegetables masked by luscious cream, gorgeous garlic and bubbly cheese. Words that speak straight to my heart.
Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the onion, summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic in butter until tender.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, seasonings and cream until smooth; add to the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Drain pasta and add to vegetable mixture and gently stir everything together. Pour the pasta into a greased square pan. Top with Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 20 minutes.
I tripled this recipe for a potluck I attended and baked the pasta in a 9 x 13-inch pan instead.
I had been craving a southwestern style egg roll for weeks when we finally took a trip to Perkins Restaurant. Back in the day when I worked there, their mini chimi’s were one of my favorite things to munch on as the wee hours of the morning ticked on. I had finally been away long enough that the food was appetizing again, which was made apparent by my insatiable craving.
To my disappointment, Perkins took the chimi’s off of their menu. That figures huh? At least it motivated me to finally try to make these on my own. These turned out super flavorful and were easy to make. The filling is bursting with protein filled beans and vegetables but you could add some lean shredded chicken to this mix too. The least healthiest part about these egg rolls is the deep fry. You can opt to spray these with some non-stick cooking spray and bake them at 425 degrees F for 14-15 minutes (flipping halfway) instead but I’m a crunch FIEND and generally prefer that deep fry crunch. Yum!
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions, and cook until tender. Stir in spinach, corn, black beans, and lime juice. Season with salt and cumin. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese.
Place 1/4 cup of filling in the center of each egg roll wrapper. Fold in the sides, and roll egg rolls; dampen the edges with a small amount of water to seal.
In a large heavy skillet, heat enough vegetable oil to cover egg rolls over medium-high heat. Working in batches, carefully place egg rolls in hot oil, and cook until golden brown. Remove to paper towels.
For the Jalapeno Ranch Dip:
Place the first seven ingredients in a blender; cover and process until smooth. Chill until serving. Serve with chicken wings and, if desired, celery. Yield: 2-1/4 cups.
Wear disposable gloves when you're working with jalapeno peppers.
For my birthday (which was many moons ago now) my Mister bought me a gift card to this amazing European market in Boulder. I finally went shopping and purchased some orecchiette imported from Italy. Now if you’ve never had orecchiette, think of them as tiny pasta bowls.
In Italian‘orecchio‘ means ‘ear,’ and the suffix ‘etto’ means ‘small’ because these resemble the shape of small ears. Which, I admit, sounds a bit weird at first, but after you take a bite of orecchiette brimming with delicious sauce, you’ll understand why this pasta is so good.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the green beans and peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and vegetables and return them to the pot.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the sausage, pesto, Parmesan, and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and vegetables and toss to combine (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry).
I was never any good at chemistry (usually distracted by the funny boys who sat next to me in my class) and few of my baking recipes worked after I moved to a higher altitude, but I couldn’t resist an attempt at making homemade banana bread. There is something completely magical about banana bread. Banana bread is so simple to put together yet the smells that fill your home while it rises and bakes in your oven would suggest otherwise. With so many varieties out there, it’s hard to pick a favorite. This is a great go-to recipe to work off of, at any altitude.
Sometimes I add in toasted walnuts, other times I crave cinnamon, this particular day I was hankering for some chocolate. How uncharacteristic of me…
I’ve recently fallen in love with many of Chocolate Moosey’s recipes and although she doesn’t know it, her recipes have helped me find my way again with flour, sugar and butter. My uphill battle with baking has become less of a battle and more of a fun challenge. Please visit her food blog to see this and more of her delicious recipes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Combine egg, milk, vanilla and oil in separate bowl. Add to flour mixture; mix just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips and mashed bananas. Spoon into pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Today, Marvin Lee Aday is 65 years old. To celebrate this paradise, dashboard-loving artist, I thought it appropriate to post a meatloaf recipe *smiles*
Oh the cleverness of me.
Meatloaf is one of those dishes that people either love or hate. If your mom made you dry meatloaf as a kid, you probably never wanted to look at the stuff again. For me, it was fruit cake. Bleh. But meatloaf is one of those comfort foods that is inexpensive, easy, and filling – something we can all use once in awhile.
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (80/20 works good) or ground turkey
1 cup Milk
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 slices of bread, torn up into small pieces, or 1 cup dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Dry Ground Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Hot Sauce (or slightly more, to taste)
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 diced bell pepper, some fresh basil, or sliced mushrooms as add-ins (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Saute the vegetables (onion, garlic and any other additional vegetables you wish to use) in a little olive oil until softened. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (except ketchup and brown sugar) and mix well. Don’t be afraid to get in there with your hands – they work best.
Spread mixture into an ungreased loaf pan or shape into a loaf on a sheet pan. Spread ketchup and brown sugar on top of meatloaf.
Cook for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes (or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees).
Let stand for 5 minutes and serve.
Cooking it in a loaf pan can help the loaf stay moist.
Take a couple slices of bread and place on bottom of meatloaf pan before putting in meat mixture.
This will help soak up some of the fat that will puddle at the bottom of the pan (I use the heel ends).
Cooking it on a sheet pan will help some of the fat spread away from the meat if you are looking to make this a slightly leaner dish. It’s just a matter of preference.
What can I say about mashed potatoes? Besides that they are buttery, delicious, soul-warming, a holiday favorite and really pick me up when I’m having “one of those days.” Other than that, there really isn’t much to say about mashed potatoes.
My mashed potato recipe is based on many tips from many different potato experts. If you want perfectly light and fluffy mashed potatoes, you must first rinse as much starch off of the potatoes as you can before you even start cooking them. Excess starch can sometimes make your potatoes gummy.
Secondly, boiling your potatoes really leaves them water-logged after they are cooked. Because of all of this water, they don’t have a chance to absorb as much butter or dairy as we’d like. Steaming your potatoes is the best way to cook them.
From there, some people swear by their ricer for a perfect mash. Others like whipping their potatoes. Personally, I like hand mashing them because I like tasting a few chunks in my potatoes. Use your favorite method to mash your potatoes!
Ree, The Pioneer Woman, brings up a good point when she says that mashed potatoes can be very labor intensive, especially with everything else going on during a holiday dinner. The good news is you can make this recipe ahead of time and heat it up when you’re ready to rock n’ roll. I got the ‘make ahead and reheat’ part of this recipe from her.
Here’s how to make some mean mashed potatoes:
Start by peeling your potatoes and chopping them into uniform sizes (I like the skin in my mashed potatoes, so I leave some of them on). Then steam them until they are fork tender.
Smash your potatoes then add lots of delicious ingredients like butter. Lots and lots of beautiful, glorious butter.
Serve hot. When making your potatoes a day or two in advance pack them in an oven friendly dish, top with a few “greens” to make those vegetables lovers happy and drop a few more tabs of butter on top. Yup, more butter. Cover and store in the fridge.
When your special day arrives, take the potatoes out of the fridge a couple of hours ahead of time. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until warmed through. Enjoy!
Note: If you would like to make these potatoes ahead of time and serve them later, stir finished potatoes well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through. When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.
5 pounds Russet Potatoes
3/4 cups Butter
1 package (8-ounces) Cream Cheese, Softened
1/2 cup (to 3/4 Cups) Whole Milk
1/2 teaspoon (to 1 teaspoon) Salt
1/2 teaspoon (to 1 teaspoon) Black Pepper
Peel and cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces that are relatively uniform. Rinse in a colander with cool water for about a minute. Add an inch or two of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and add a steamer basket (if your steamer basket doesn't have legs and submerges into the water, add a wad of aluminum foil to the bottom of the pot so the steamer basket is lifted). Add the potatoes on top of the steamer pot and cook for 25 or so minutes, or until a fork easily slides into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.
Drain the potatoes in a large colander then place the potatoes back into the large pot over low heat. This will allow the potatoes to dry a bit in the pot for a couple of minutes. You can simply mash the potatoes in the pot with a hand masher or use a mixer with the whipped beater attachment, either way, mash the potatoes before adding in the other ingredients.
Turn off the stove and add the butter, cream cheese and about 1/2 cup of milk. Continue mashing until everything is combined. Next, add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. Add more milk, a couple tablespoons at a time if your potatoes are too stiff. Note: If you are using a mixer for your potatoes, you want to oversaturate your potatoes a bit. After you mix for another couple of minutes, you will see your soupy potato mixture transform into beautiful, fluffy mashed potatoes.