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Butternut Squash Butter

Everyone’s heard of pumpkin butter, but with so much butternut squash at my fingertips, I wanted to make butternut butter.  I used this recipe from Eat, Live, Run as a guide.  Thankfully, I also had one big assistant and one little assistant for the project!

We started by weighing the squash, because the amount of squash will drive how much of the other ingredients you need.  However, I cut way back on the sugar from the original recipe – this squash is so sweet on it’s own, you just don’t need that much.  This scale is truly an antique, but it still works.

 

My big assistant did all the peeling and slicing, and I roasted the squash in the oven.  Then my little assistant helped to measure all the other ingredients and put them in the food processor along with the roasted squash.

 

 

My big and little assistants teamed up for the most exciting part – pushing the buttons on the food processor.

 

 

The original recipe called for putting the mixture on the stove to thicken, but ours was already quite thick at this point.  I did put it on the stove to heat through, but then we were done and ready to put it in glass jars.  The little assistant got a snack of plain yogurt with a spoonful of butternut butter, which he loved!  I spread some on a piece of whole wheat toast later on, and really enjoyed this fall treat.

 

 

Butternut Squash Butter

1 (4 lb.) butternut squash, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 T lemon juice

Place butternut squash slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast at 400F for 20-25 minutes.  Repeat this process until all the squash is roasted.  Place squash, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Place mixture in a pan on the stove and cook until thickened, as needed.

-Recipe adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Swiss Chard, Take 1

My parents have a small garden with mostly tomatoes and peppers, but they also grew some Swiss chard this year.  We thought it would be fun to involve my older nephew in the harvesting and cooking of the Swiss chard, since kids are more likely to try new vegetables when they have helped to pick them out and prepare them.

 

 

My Mom did the cutting while my nephew held the leaves.

 

 

He took the job of washing the leaves very seriously, for a not-quite-3 year old.

 

At this point, he lost interest in the project and had to go to swim lessons anyway.  I cut the stems from the Swiss chard, and cooked them in a pan with a bit of olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Then I added the torn leaves, and cooked it for a few minutes more.  We ended up with a gorgeous bowl of Swiss chard to have with dinner.  It doesn’t get more local than this!

 

 

The rest of us really enjoyed this, but my nephew didn’t end up taking one bite of the Swiss chard.  And that’s OK, because it often takes several exposures for kids to try new food.  We’ll try again soon!

Wagon Wheel Pizza

We had a fun weekend, complete with a train themed birthday party for my littlest nephew.  I’ll have the story of his birthday cake and some cute pictures ready tomorrow, but in the meantime, let’s start with some of the food.

Consistent with the train theme, my sister served food from the Wild West including BBQ Pork, Chicken, Wagon Wheel Macaroni & Cheese, Baked Beans (recipe coming Wednesday!), and Cole Slaw.  We also made these Wagon Wheel Pizzas which turned out to be a fun option for both the little kids and big kids.

They’re really just typical mini- bagel pizzas which use strips of red pepper for ‘spokes’.  The cheese goes underneath the topping so that they’re more visible.  It’s a great way to add some veggies in too.  We also tried this with strips of meatloaf, but the visual effect wasn’t quite as good.  The pizzas are easy to make in advance, and then you can just pop them into the oven when the train of guests arrives!

 

 

Wagon Wheel Pizzas

Mini-bagels
Tomato Sauce
Mozzarella Cheese
Red Pepper Strips

Spread a spoonful of sauce on each mini-bagel.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Place red pepper strips in a spoke fashion.  Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes.

 

 

Feta Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

If you like feta cheese and sweet potatoes anywhere near as much as I do, you’ll love these!  I got the idea from this Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen, but decided the original recipe didn’t have nearly enough cheese.  It was just a little tricky to squeeze the potato out of the skins while a) keeping the skin in one piece and b) not burning my hands, but I was successful with 2 out of 3 skins which isn’t too bad.  And the potatoes were just as good the second day, reheated in the microwave.  I may have to try some other cheese/spice combinations soon!

 

 

 

Feta Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

3 sweet potatoes
1 c. fat free feta
1/4 t coriander
Dash cayenne pepper
2 t Garlic Gold in oil
Smoked paprika

Scrub sweet potatoes, and bake at 350F for 60 minutes, or until very soft. Meanwhile, mix feta, coriander, cayenne pepper, and Garlic Gold in a bowl, and refrigerate.

When potatoes are ready, remove from oven.  Slice potatoes open lengthwise, and using an oven mitt, squeeze potato flesh into a bowl, reserving the skin in one piece.  Add feta mixture to potato and mix well.  Stuff mixture into potato skins.  Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, and garnish with smoked paprika before serving.

-Lightly adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Pudding

When you think of Easter, chocolate comes to mind, right?  But we couldn’t settle for just any chocolate bunny for dessert – my sister decided to make Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Pudding.  We have both made a ton of Smitten recipes and they are generally perfect.  But this pudding didn’t set quite right, and a review of the comments shows that other readers had the same problem.

Since we ended up with delicious drinkable chocolate, I can’t call it a total flop.  But if you’re looking for something more pudding-like, it seems like the key may be to either cook the pudding for longer than indicated, or use direct heat rather than the double boiler.  This tasted so good that I think it’s worth another shot someday!

 

Eggs and Peas

Although cooking on any weeknight is hard, I think Friday nights are the worst.  It’s been a long week, and there usually aren’t many groceries in the house.  Sometimes I have plans to be out, sometimes I swing by Whole Foods to make a salad or grab sushi, and sometimes I force myself to get creative.  The Internet definitely helps.  I usually find two ingredients and type “IngredientA IngredientB recipe” into Google.  This week, a recipe for Eggs and Peas popped up.

Less than 30 minutes later, I had a skillet full of hot food ready to enjoy.  This is certainly not the most beautiful dinner I ever made, but it was tasty, nutritious, and economical, with leftovers for the next day.  On Friday nights, I consider that a win.

 

 

Eggs and Peas

2 c. frozen peas
1  (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
3-4 eggs
1/2 c. reduced fat mozzarella cheese

Place peas in a skillet on low heat until they are thawed.  Add in tomato sauce, stir, and continue cooking until heated through.  Make 3-4 indentations with a spoon, and crack an egg into each space.  Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes until eggs are set.  Remove cover, and sprinkle with cheese.  Cook until cheese is melted.

-Adapted from Hillbillly Housewife