Butternut Squash Salad in a Jar

I’m always looking for a “silver lining” when I’m inconvenienced or when things just don’t seem to be going my way.  Recently, I found that silver lining in a major road construction project that closed a through-fare  that I frequented on my daily jaunt back and forth to work.  Because of the construction, a detour took me down a winding country road that was quite scenic as the fall landscape was beautiful.  Tucked in among the oak trees and farm land sat a roadside farm stand that was bursting at the seams with an abundance of cool weather vegetables, plump ripe tomatoes, and an assortment of peppers.  The entire front yard displayed a sea of beautiful orange pumpkins where families strolled to pick out a few of their favorites.  I had my eyes on the butternut squash as I pulled my vehicle to the side of the road. Hand written prices were scrawled on a mini chalkboard that was propped up against the old wooden flat bed wagon. A tin can was laid out for patrons to square up their bill and honestly leave the amount due.  It was like a blast from the past.  I was thrilled to have found this quiet piece of paradise alongside the road construction and the hectic traffic of the day. 

Arriving home, I searched the web for a delicious looking recipe where I could use my butternut squash.  I stumbled on this salad in a jar recipe and immediately gathered the ingredients I would need for the colorful dish. I chose this recipe because of the maple syrup in the dressing.  We tapped our trees this past spring and I wanted to use our own maple syrup with the other dressing ingredients.  I made a few slight changes to the recipe…  Instead of pepitas, I used sunflower seeds and instead of the quinoa, I used couscous. I used a container of field greens for the salad mix.  This is a delicious recipe that I will be sure to make again.  Here’s the link for this “Fall Mason Jar Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing”…

https://www.spoonfulofflavor.com/2015/09/14/fall-mason-jar-salad-with-maple-balsamic-dressing/

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Teriyaki Chicken Marinade



When I grill chicken, I usually use a bottled marinade to flavor and tenderize the meat.  Well, this week I ran out of my favorite supermarket brand and decided to revisit an old recipe of my own.  I often pair this marinade with a few finely chopped slices of pineapple to give it a Hawaiian flair.  A hearty helping of rice and vegetables works great with this teriyaki grilled chicken dish.

Teriyaki Chicken Marinade

1 cup soy sauce

1 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons white vinegar

 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 medium onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, graded

1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple, optional

In a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce, water, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, oil, onions, garlic, and ginger. Whisk together until sugar is dissolved. Add optional pineapple.  Using a plastic bag or covered container.  Pour mixture over chicken pieces and marinate for 3 hours or overnight.  Grill or bake chicken until a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees is reached.

Creamy Low-Carb (Mock) Mac and Cheese



I’ve been meaning to try this recipe adapted from a collection of similar recipes.  I happened to notice that our local grocer had riced cauliflower on sale and thought I would use the opportunity to make a little “comfort food” for this chilly Sunday afternoon.  The texture of the diced cauliflower simulates the texture of rice or noodles.  It’s certainly not exactly like my original version of mac and cheese that my family has grown to love, but it’s close enough for carb concious gals like me.

Creamy Low-Carb Mac and Cheese


1- 12 ounce bag riced cauliflower

3/4 cup cream or half and half

2 oz cream cheese

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Steam or microwave riced cauliflower as directed. Pat dry with paper towels. Spray 13X9″ baking pan with non-stick spray. In a small saucepan bring cream to a simmer, add cream cheese stirring until cream cheese melts. Add dry mustard powder, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder; whisk to incorporate. Turn off heat and add 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese slowly, stirring well to incorporate. Put cauliflower into prepared casserole dish, evenly pour cheese sauce over cauliflower.  Sprinkle the last 1/2 cup of cheese over the top. Bake at 375 degrees until topping is melted and beginning to brown, or about 15-20 minutes.  Remove  from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup



Another school year begins…

Our daughter is beginning her clinical year up in Evanston, IL.  Once again, we loaded up all of her belongings to move her into a cute little apartment, not far from the “Purple Line” in a beautiful part of town, just outside the Northwestern University campus.  The cool breezes off the shores of Lake Michigan have made for an unseasonably cooler summer.  

After settling her into the apartment, we walked into town to find a local place to eat lunch.  We spotted an adorable restaurant called The Farmhouse-Evanston.  The menu touted local foods, brews, and seasonal fare.  With a chill in the air, the tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich sounded wonderful. My daughter ordered it without hesitation.  All through the meal, she raved about the creamy soup and hearty, three-cheese sandwich.  

After returning home, I was inspired to make a big pot of flavorful tomato soup for the family. What a treat.  This recipe makes enough to serve the whole clan with extras to pack into containers for weekday lunches.

…Outstanding soup!  Don’t forget to garnish with pieces of garlic toast, Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.

Creamy Tomato and Basil Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 large white onion, chopped

2 (28 oz) cans San Marzano whole, peeled tomatoes

1 1/2 cups water

3 teaspoons chicken soup base

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup half and half

6 – 8 large fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasonings

1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste

In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, do. It over cook.  Add onion; stir and cook until translucent.

Add the two can of tomatoes with juice, chicken base, water, and sugar. Bring to a low simmer. Cook uncovered, for 12-15 minutes. Add the half & half, basil, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper.

Using an immersion blender,  puree soup until smooth. Serve immediately with a hearty grilled cheese sandwich or a fresh salad.



M’s Triple Chippers

 
This is a great basic cookie recipe that is truly scrumptious as the mix of chips adds a special taste to the batter.  Have you ever started a recipe only to find that you didn’t have all of the ingredients needed? 

Well, resourceful M found herself in this situation and took a simple recipe and added a mixture of chips that we had available on the baking shelf, turning this into an absolutely delicious treat.
M’s Triple Chippers

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons hot water

3 cups all-purpose flour 

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup peanut butter chips

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter; stir completely.  Stir in flour, salt, and chips.  Use large ice cream scoop to drop onto cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.

Blueberry Pie with Oat Crumble Topping

This past holiday weekend was mild and breezy…the perfect opportunity to head up the road to a local farm to purchase some plump, ripe blueberries.  The trip was inspired by my niece who had been “baking up a storm” to celebrate her mother’s (my sister’s) birthday.  My sister celebrates her birthday on Independence Day so her daughter prepared a few festive goodies for the occasion. After seeing a few pictures of the table setting for the party, I was inspired to uncover our vintage Mustang convertible and take a drive down the country road to pick up a five-pound box of freshly picked berries.  This is one of my favorite pie recipes as it is super simple, made with fresh, bright flavors and ingredients. There is nothing like sharing a piece of blueberry pie after dinner on a Sunday evening with the family before starting another busy work week.

Blueberry Pie with Oat Crumble Topping

1 pre-made pie crust

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

5 cups fresh blueberries

Topping:

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

6 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Press the pie crust into the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ pie plate. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and flour, lemon zest and lemon juice. Gently stir in the blueberries. Carefully, pour blueberry mixture into the pie crust.In a medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix in butter using a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Spread the crumb topping evenly over the pie filling.

Bake for 40-45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until browned on top. Cover with foil if crust starts to get too dark before baking is complete.  Cool before slicing.

Classic Pancakes for a Crowd



During the summer months, when our children are home from college, I am often amazed by the amount of food that passes through my kitchen.  While we all have a responsibility to report to work every morning, the never ending supply or food provided for breakfast, lunch, and dinner amazes me.  We are not a family that chooses to eat “out” very often so packing or making quick meals can be a challenge. The weekends are used as a time to prepare foods that can be reheated during the week for a quick start to the day. We’ll make a crockpot full of steel cut oats that will be divided up into serving sized containers for a week’s worth of breakfasts or sometimes I make omelette muffins for a handy, bite-sized meal. This recipe for Morning Glory Oatmeal is devine. This weekend, I made Pancakes for a Crowd that would feed the group during our Saturday morning breakfast with leftovers for a “re-heat” during the week. 

I love the ole’ fashioned tradition of actually gathering around the kitchen table for a home cooked meal.  We all have busy schedules but this ritual  is incredibly important to me.  It gives us a chance to catch up, talk about our week, and come together as a family.  Then, it’s out the door and off in our separate ways to tend to our busy lives…



This recipe is adapted from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook that I have had for over twenty five years.  I triple the ingredients to make enough pancakes to feed a family of five with about ten left over.  I make sure to have on hand a small jar of homemade maple syrup from the trees on our land.  During the week, a full breakfast is a bit much so I notice the children will spread a dollop of peanut butter or homemade strawberry jam on a flapjack, roll it up and head out the door with a hand held meal for the road.   A healthier version of these pancakes can be found here.

Pancakes for a Crowd

3 egg, beaten

3 cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour

3 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cup milk ( more or less for a thinner/thicker batter)

6 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter

In medium bowl, stir  together ingredients just until flour is moistened (batter will be slightly lumpy); do not overmix or pancakes will be tough. 

Heat a non-stick griddle or skillet over medium-high heat; use cooking oil if necessary. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto griddle for each pancake. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbly on top and dry around edges. Turn; cook other side until golden brown.

Pack up extras after the meal for leftovers during the week…