Roasted Squash Casserole

There are few side dishes that scream holiday like roasted squash and this one is not only simple, but it ends up looking festive when the cranberries and spinach are tossed in. It’s even converted my family of non-squash fans. And the best part? It’s completely portable!

2 packages butternut squash, cut in 1-inch pieces (20 ounces each)
2 red onions, peeled, chopped (about 4 cups)
3 tbsp olive oil (I used a rosemary-infused oil)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped spinach
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Roast the squash and the onions in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.

Add to a serving dish. Toss with the cranberries and spinach (the heat of the squash will wilt the spinach just a bit)

I brought this yesterday to our family Thanksgiving feast. I kept the squash in a casserole carrier to keep it warm. It didn’t even need to go into the oven to reheat. Just before dinner, I tossed in the spinach and the cranberries.

Trust me when I tell you that there was not a bit left (well, maybe just a spare piece of spinach!)

Pumpkin Swirl Bread

Here we go! The start of holiday season and as I said last time, I can’t wait to start cooking our favorites. Thanksgiving brings pumpkin swirl bread, which is a perfect add to your Thanksgiving breakfast or dinner. It’s that savory. This year, I decided to bake it in mini-loaves to share the love where ever we go this weekend (as long as we don’t devour it first)

Cream Cheese Layer

1 8oz package of cream cheese (softened)
1/4 c sugar
1 egg

Batter

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin spice (or nutmeg)
1 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c unsalted butter (melted)
1 egg
1/3 c water

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Blend cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and egg with a mixer. Set aside

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside

Combine pumpkin puree, butter, egg and water. Fold into dry ingredients. Reserve 2 cups of the batter. Pour remaining batter into greased and floured loaf pan. Carefully spread cream cheese mixture over batter. Top with reserved batter.

Bake about 70 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (if you’re using mini loaf pans, reduce baking time to about 45 minutes)

Store in fridge when not enjoying!

What’s Cooking This Week

Well I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that it’s the holiday season, but beyond excited to start cooking some of our favorite foods (later this week!) But in the meantime, we’re still looking for meals we love, but haven’t made it onto the weekly menu in a while! Plus it was a weekend of basketball and football so we were looking for some game day go-to’s! First up was a saucy chicken cornbread skillet (why yes, that is a mouthful!)

This starts off easy with a box of corn muffin mix, an egg, 2 tbsp melted butter, 3/4 cups milk and 1 cup of frozen corn kernels. Spread into a cast iron skillet that’s been coated with olive oil and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes (or until golden brown)

While the cornbread is in the oven, sauté some diced onion and pepper until soft. Add some garlic, cumin, chili powder and stir to combine. Add a couple cups of diced, cooked chicken, a small can of tomato sauce, a tbsp of Worcestershire sauce and a dash of brown sugar. Simmer until the cornbread layer is finished.

When the cornbread is golden brown, spread the chicken mixture over the top, sprinkle a cup or two of shredded cheddar cheese over everything and return to the oven until the cheese is melted.

Top with scallions and some fresh, chopped cilantro. Cut into squares and enjoy! (I always like a dash of sour cream on the side)

And we always love a good meatloaf. It’s like the perfect fall comfort food. I know there are a million different ways to make it but my favorite is to use steel cut oats in the mix instead of any breadcrumbs (or even bread soaked in milk). My traditionalist husband was also quite distressed to learn many years ago that I don’t use all ground beef like his mother always used to, but a mix of ground beef, pork and veal. To me, both those ingredients keep everything moist and give it wonderful flavor.

One thing that never varies are the sides. In my house, it has to be mashed potatoes and a green bean casserole. To my family, the only acceptable vegetable substitution is peas. It’s a tough crowd to cook for! 😉

You’ll notice there’s no gravy. That’s not a deliberate choice, but an accident in realizing that I didn’t have any on hand until we were sitting down to eat. I view it as an excuse to make meatloaf again soon!

One thing I have tried is to lighten things up by using ground chicken or turkey. I find to keep that nice and moist, it helps to bake them in muffin tins to make mini-meat loafs.

Hoping that Thanksgiving brings you your favorite foods enjoyed in good health and surrounded by those you love!

Eat well friends!

What’s Cooking This Week

Sometimes I find myself in a cooking rut where I make our current favorites in a non-stop loop. That’s actually one of the friendly reminders this blog has given me – when it’s time to shake things up. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that both of these meals were the suggestion of my family. It’s always an epiphany when someone says “hey, you know what you haven’t made in a while…”

First up, we had taco salad (which has emerged in concession stands and food trucks everywhere as a walking taco salad served in a mini-bag of chips).

The possibilities are endless here, but the basics are browned ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning that has cooled to room temperature.

Fill a bowl with some sturdy lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, diced onion, peppers, chopped green chilis, olives, kidney beans… you get the point: the possibilities are endless! Crumble in most of a bag of Doritos (I always save some for the side) and toss with Catalina dressing. A while ago we were craving this, but didn’t have any Catalina dressing, so I’ve been making my own ever since!

In a mason jar, combine:

1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c red wine vinegar
Onion powder and paprika to taste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

If you’re feeding more than four people, just double the recipe.

Bonus: I always make this in a bowl that my grandmother gave my mother, which now I lovingly use!

Next up, we have scrambled egg sandwiches. This one is a mix between breakfast for dinner and how can I use these leftovers in my fridge.

Slice a baguette in half, then cut each half in two (which is my way of saying you’ll have four pieces of bread). Toast in a 200 degree oven for about 5 minute. Heat a couple tablespoons of unsalted butter in a frying pan and sauté a cup of finely diced ham steak. While that’s heating, whisk 6 eggs with salt, pepper, dill, and a dash of Dijon mustard. Add the eggs to the ham and gently cook until the eggs are just set.

Top each piece of bread with a few scoops of the ham and eggs, top with slices of Swiss cheese, then bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melty. Sprinkle some chives and parsley on top and you are good to go! I made some hash browns in the air fryer that I tossed with olive oil, garlic powder and salt and pepper. It will take as long to get crispy as the eggs take to cook.

Leftover sausage works really well too in this dish – I just use sliced provolone as the cheese instead of the Swiss

Now I’m excited to see what other favorites we can re-discover. What dish haven’t you made in a while that your family loves? No matter what it is, I hope you enjoy it in good health and surrounded by those you love!

Eat well friends!

Game Day Go-To: Chili

Oh it’s that time of year where nothing beats a nice bowl of chili while enjoying the game. I probably say that about every game day food I write about, but I can’t deny it when we’re talking chili. Years ago, my husband worked with someone from Texas and he was horrified to discover we put beans (*gasp) in our chili. What followed was a fascinating conversation the “rules” of what makes a good bowl of chili where he was from in Texas. He and his wife always served the beans in the side so they could be added to the bowl to each person’s preference. So honestly, not only do I think of them every time I make chili, I feel that they are looking down disapprovingly at us!

I always start by browning a pound or so of lean ground beef (I try to get 90% when I can). As the beef is browning in a Dutch oven, I add about a cup each of diced onion and peppers. At the very least, I use green bell pepper, but I do love spicing it up a notch if I have some leftover poblanos in the fridge.

Once the beef is browned, I add two 14oz cans of diced tomatoes and one can of kidney beans. But the absolute key to a good chili in my humble opinion are the spices. I honestly just keep a stash by my side and add until it has the perfect flavor. I typically use ground pepper, a bit of salt, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and a touch of cinnamon. The cinnamon gives all the spices the perfect touch of sweetness.

I keep simmering for about twenty minutes at a time, tasting, then adjusting the spices if I have to. As my grandma always said, once you put the spices in, you can’t get them out!

We like serving it up topped with shredded cheddar cheese and diced green onions. My only regret here is that I didn’t think to make a batch of cornbread to serve on the side, so tortilla chips had to do the trick.

What’s been on your game day menu? Whatever it is, may you enjoy it in good health and surrounded by those you love!

Eat well my friends!