Butternut Squash Bake

Butternut Squash Bake Recipe

Everywhere I look right now, there is squash. Bins and bins of colorful gourds are currently overflowing at every market and grocery store. I wanted to seize the opportunity to make a delicious seasonal pasta bake that is light and warm, perfect for fall. From the masses available, I picked out a classic: butternut squash.

butternutsquashbake2

The first step, of course, is dicing up the butternut squash. Just a note- if you don’t feel like going through the prep work, you can usually find cubed butternut squash at the grocery store. To prepare the squash, I usually cut a slice off the bottom of the squash so that it can stand flat on the counter while I peel it. After peeling the squash, carefully cut it in half with a large knife. Then scoop out the seeds and discard.

At this point your butternut squash is ready for roasting in halves or slicing into cubes. For this recipe, slice the squash into cubes, drizzle with olive oil, and then roast in the oven for about half an hour.

This is a three-step pasta bake: first you cook the squash and pasta, then combine all of the ingredients on the stove, and finish by transferring everything to the oven to bake.

While the squash is roasting, you can boil the pasta. After both the pasta and squash are done, sauté the shallots in a large pot or Dutch oven. Then add the rest of the ingredients and stir it all together, reserving a little of the cheese and parsley to sprinkle on the top. I transferred the mixture to a baking dish to bake in the oven, but if you use a Dutch oven you can put that directly in.

I really like this recipe because unlike some other (often heavily cheesy) pasta dishes, this one is perfectly light and doesn’t weigh you down after eating it. So next time you head past that overflowing bin of squash that I know is at your supermarket, go ahead and grab a squash for a tasty, savory weeknight meal.

Butternut Squash Bake
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 4-5
Ingredients
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 8 oz. rotini pasta
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle cubed butternut squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 25 minutes until fork-tender, stirring once.
  2. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. In a Dutch oven or deep pot, melt the butter. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until they start to become translucent.
  3. Stir in the lemon juice. Add cooked noodles and roasted squash to the shallot mixture. Stir in the mascarpone, ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese, ½ tbsp parsley, and a bit of salt and black pepper. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Top with remaining Parmesan and parsley. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, uncovered, until the top begins to brown.

 

Healthy Green Beans with Almond Breadcrumbs

Healthy Green Beans with Almond Breadcrumbs

The start of the holiday season always gets me looking forward to the classic dishes that appear on the table around this time. Green beans are a very popular side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas, whether in a casserole or simply prepared. This lemony green bean dish is a delicious, vibrant alternative to casserole. It not only tastes amazing, it is also much healthier for you.

greenbeans-almondbreadcrumbs2

Fresh green beans are a vegetable that I have always liked, even when I was a kid and a very picky eater. Back then I would normally shirk around the word vegetable. But when summertime rolled around and the beans were ready to pick, surely enough I was out in the garden eating them straight from the stem. Fast forward to the present day, and now I enjoy them as a healthy side dish to many meals. This savory preparation of green beans combines lemon with an almond breadcrumb sort of crust. I love the added crunch and nuttiness of the breadcrumbs, and the brightness of the lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.

greenbeans-almondbreadcrumbs3

There is also no need to worry about keeping this dish warm, which is one less stress around the holiday table! It is still delicious at room temperature. You can also prepare the simple lemon vinaigrette and breadcrumbs ahead of time. When it’s time to eat, just combine with cooked green beans.

To prevent the green beans from turning an unappealing olive color, make sure to dunk them in an ice bath after cooking. The olive color can also happen if the beans are overcooked, so make sure to watch the time on the stove. After the ice bath, you simply toss the green beans in the lemon and olive oil vinaigrette, and then top the dish with the toasted almond breadcrumbs.

greenbeans-almondbreadcrumbs4

This simple recipe will leave you feeling satisfied without weighing you down. You won’t miss all that heavy cream of a casserole. I scraped my plate clean because the almond breadcrumbs were so tasty. It is a great compliment for any holiday table, and easy to put together in a hurry.

Healthy Green Beans with Almond Breadcrumbs
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs green beans, trimmed
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Over medium heat, lightly toast the almonds. Transfer to a blender or food processor and chop until they are the same consistency as breadcrumbs.
  2. Mix together 3 tbsp of olive oil and the lemon juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, breadcrumbs, almonds, and lemon zest and stir. Cook until golden, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped parsley.
  4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch for 4-5 minutes. Prepare a large bowl of ice water while the beans are cooking. Remove beans from hot water – they should be tender and still crisp. Place the beans into the ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain the green beans and return them to the pot. Toss with the olive oil and lemon juice. To serve, top with almond breadcrumbs.

 

Surprise Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

Surprise Pumpkin Cupcakes

I love just about anything that includes pumpkin, and during the fall season I bake even more goodies using this delicious ingredient. I wanted to make pumpkin cupcakes with a twist.  I call these “surprise cupcakes” because there’s a yummy cream cheese filling hidden inside.

I put the recipe to the test by having my sons try them. The verdict? My youngest gave them two thumbs up, and my oldest used the word “AMAZING” several times. To me, this means the recipe is a hit. :)

I started with a pumpkin cupcake recipe that I found at All Recipes called Harvest Pumpkin Cupcakes. The original recipe serves 32 so I used their serving tool to reduce it to 24 cupcakes instead. I included this info in the recipe below for your convenience.

Surprise Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • Pumpkin Cupcakes:
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • Filling:
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • Frosting:
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1¾ cups confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Milk, if needed
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cupcake Mix:
  3. Slightly blend the eggs in a mixer, then add the oil, sugar, and pumpkin. Mix until blended.
  4. Next mix the flour, corn starch, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.
  5. Slowly mix in in the dry mixture to the pumpkin mix until well blended.
  6. Filling:
  7. Blend the softened cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy.
  8. Add the egg and salt and blend.
  9. Assembling Cupcakes:
  10. Line your muffin tin with paper cups and fill them almost half full with the batter.
  11. Next, place about a teaspoon of the cream cheese filling on top.
  12. Lastly, add about another teaspoon of the cupcake batter on top of the filling until the cream cheese is no longer visible.
  13. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  14. Frosting:
  15. Beat the butter and shortening in a small bowl until it appears fluffy.
  16. Add in the confectioners' sugar and cinnamon, continue to beat until well combined.
  17. If the frosting is to thick and not spreadable, incorporate 1 teaspoon of milk at a time until it is the right consistency for frosting.

 

Pumpkin Recipe Book Do you love pumpkin as much as I do?
Check out The Great Pumpkin Recipe Book on Amazon.
 

Cinnamon Apple Galette

CinnamonAppleGalette-1

Fall means an abundance of apples. They fill the farmers market stands. And what to do with them all? There’s apple pie, apple sauce, apple butter, apple cider. But let me tell you about apple galette. Galette, to me, is a simpler and easier version of pie. It’s the casual rustic cousin, that still tastes absolutely delicious.

The filling for a galette is essentially the same as a pie, but pie crust can be tricky; too dry, too hard, too many things that can go awry. I have now made multiple galettes with excellent results. No pie pan is required here, just parchment paper for cleaning up in a jiffy. The dough is spread out on the parchment paper, the filling is placed in the middle, and then the edges are folded up to hold the fruit in. The end result is a rustic galette with a perfectly flaky crust.

CinnamonAppleGalette-2

Let’s start with the crust. You can make this a day ahead of time and refrigerate overnight, or just refrigerate for an hour as the recipe calls for. But I must stress, do not skip the refrigerating step.

You’ll need your food processor (or blender), flour, butter, sugar, and salt. When these are blended into a coarse meal, you add cold water until it starts to stick together. You then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form it into a disc, then refrigerate for at least an hour.

Once the dough is ready, you simply roll it out into a large circle, put your apple mixture in the middle, and fold up the edges. And don’t forget the egg wash! It should look something like this:

CinnamonAppleGalette-3

The filling is quite easy- basically just mixing fruit and sugar together in a bowl. Because of the season I used apples, but pears and peaches would also be wonderful, or of course mixed berries.

You then bake the galette for about an hour until the edges are browned and flaky, at which time you can pull it out of the oven with the aroma of cinnamon and apples filling the house. The crust comes out beautifully, and the filling has just the right amount of juiciness.

CinnamonAppleGalette-4

This warm apple galette is a keeper. Something about galette is so inviting and simple that I believe it’s a recipe you will be using regularly.

As the saying goes, it’s ‘easier than pie.

CinnamonAppleGalette-5

Cinnamon Apple Galette
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Crust:
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • ¼ to ½ cup ice water
  • Filling:
  • 2-3 cups apples, sliced (I used Honeycrisp)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
Instructions
  1. For the Crust: In a food processor or blender, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter, and process until a coarse meal forms, 8-10 seconds. With the machine running on pulse, slowly add ice water in a steady stream. Pulse just until moist clumps form. The dough should hold together without being wet or sticky. If the dough is still crumbly, continue to add cold water in small amounts.
  2. On a floured surface, form the dough into a disc. Wrap in plastic and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.
  3. For the Filling: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the filling ingredients in a large bowl, coating the apples well. Set aside.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the crust out into a 16" diameter circle and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the apple mixture into the center of the crust, leaving a 2-inch border around the outside. Fold up the dough around the edges and pinch to secure. Brush egg wash on top of the crust and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 1 hour, until the crust turns golden. Serve warm.

 

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Pancakes are definitely a favorite of mine on the weekends, when the start to the day is slow and I have time to make a leisurely breakfast. Lemon and poppy seeds have long been a much-loved combination to me, so I decided to incorporate the ingredients into pancakes for a new weekend recipe. These turned out to have just the right amount of tanginess from the lemon and crunch from the poppy seeds. I will definitely be making them again soon. This recipe is perfect for adding a little zest to your morning.

poppyseedpancakes2

Because I had some fresh blueberries on hand, I decided to top the pancakes with a blueberry syrup. To make this you simply mix blueberries and maple syrup together in a pan on the stove, over low heat. It was a delicious accompaniment.

poppyseedpancakes3

To make the pancakes, first mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt, milk, eggs, and vanilla.

Then pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. You don’t want to overmix the ingredients – a few small lumps are okay. Fold in the poppy seeds.

poppyseedpancakes4

Heat the pan or griddle to medium-high. To test for the right temperature, drop a bit of water onto the pan. It should dance or sizzle. Spray the pan with cooking spray.

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan. Once bubbles begin to appear on the surface or when the bottom is golden, flip the pancake. Continue cooking until the pancake is cooked through. Usually I keep the cooked pancakes warm in the oven until the rest are finished.

poppyseedpancakes5

The pancakes go perfectly with some blueberry topping, or just regular maple syrup.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes
 
The pancakes go perfectly with some blueberry topping, or just regular maple syrup.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 12 pancakes
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir together until just combined. Fold in the poppy seeds.
  3. Heat a griddle or non-stick skillet to medium high. Spray the pan with cooking spray. Pour ¼ cup of pancake batter onto the pan. When the pancakes start to bubble on the surface, flip over.
  4. Cook until pancakes are slightly golden brown on both sides.
  5. Repeat with the remaining batter.