Saturday, October 26, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup and so much more.....

Our foodie friends came over for dinner last week and brought us a butternut squash from their garden.  Your probably thinking, butternut squash, that is nothing spectacular, but this squash was huge.  

The squash actually came from an area near their compost bed, probably from some discarded  seeds.  And it has more "friends" too.  They had a whole bucket full of squash, all very large in their garage.    So last Sunday we had my hubby's mother over for dinner and I decided to make some Butternut Squash Soup.   With the leftover squash I gave a big chuck of the squash to my sister and saved another piece to make Roasted Squash for dinner tonight.   And guess what, we got another squash from them last night - about 15 pounds worth....

So, if you you look back to last fall I posted the recipe for the roasted squash.  And here is the recipe for the soup I made last weekend.  Any ideas for my new jumbo squash waiting to be utilized?


1 (2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Marscapone (for topping)


Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. In large pot melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove squash chunks with slotted spoon and place in a blender and puree. Return blended squash to pot. Stir and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Place a spoonful of Marscapone Cheese on soup and stir. Serve.

Serves 6

Read more at:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Foodie friends for dinner!

Last night we had our foodie friends come over for dinner.  It had been about a month since we got back from our great trip to California and we had not seen them since.  It was time to catch up, relive those great times we had and partake in a delicious meal and enjoy some great wine too.

I had this recipe from a couple of years ago from Cooking Light that I love to make in the fall.  When it is baking in the oven the house smells wonderful.  It is a beef stew, started on the stove and then baked in a slow oven for 2 1/2 hours then served over noodles.  And as I was preparing yesterday I remembered what made it smell so good....ground cloves!

So dinner was prepared early and put in the oven around 4 p.m.  Our friends arrived around 5, bringing along a chain saw to cut a dead tree down for us and they brought Brady for a visit.  Great surprise!
We enjoyed the Rosemary Hummus, some Yancy's Fancy Cheese  before dinner and a few bottles of some great Red Wine.  Hubby and I are generally White Wine fans, but the recipe called for a Syrah.  So, Syrah,  Cab or two later and a whole bunch of laughter and great conversation was enjoyed.

Beef Daube Proven├žal


  • Preparation

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil 
  • 12 garlic cloves, crushed
  • (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups chopped carrot 
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion 
  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
  • bay leaf
  • 3 cups cooked medium egg noodles (about 4 cups uncooked noodles)
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. 2. Heat a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add reserved garlic, beef, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrot, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf), and bring to a boil.
  3. 3. Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles.
  4. Note: To make in a slow cooker, prepare through Step 2. Place beef mixture in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or until beef is tender.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cookies for our college visit road trip!

It is hard to believe that almost 18 years has gone by since our little girl came into the world.  The years have flown by with day care, Kindergarten, 6th grade graduation, ballet clases, choral concerts, basketball games, lacrosse games, school plays and softball games.  I am probably missing some major events and I stopped recording the miles back and forth to school and all of these activities.  I am sure that I will look back one day and forget the late night games, the freezing cold  afternoons sitting in the bleachers, the times we studied spelling words, proof read papers, numerous sleepovers, played taxi or chaperoned parties.  These days are quickly coming to an end and we have seen them slowly ticking away with each college visit we have made.   We are also watching all of her friends growing up right before our eyes.  High school graduation day will be a very emotional day.

This is the first day of Kindergarten September 2001.  My "peanut is bottom row on right, on left is her brother from another mother and sister too! Also known as. Giada and her hubby from across the streets kids.

So, we wrapped up our college visits this past Columbus Day at the University of Connecticut.  She wants to be a Registered Dietitian, preferable working with Sports Nutrition.  This visit is the farthest away we have been for colleges, so it was going to require a long car ride, an overnight stay and a car filled with good treats. So late Saturday afternoon I hit the pantry for supplies to make cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies that is!

This recipe is from my Mom and comes out of her 1970's orange colored Betty Crocker Cookbook. They are a little different than what you see in today's recipes.  This one calls for butter and shortening and adding 1/2 more cup of flour makes them softer. A classic in our family which recently had been our daughter's specialty for basketball games a couple of years ago they can't be missed. They are so good, soft and quite tasty, you can not stop at one.  

Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookies - 1970's recipe


2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2  cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts
2 (6 ounce) packages semisweet chocolate pieces


Heat oven to 375° degrees.

Mix thoroughly shortening, butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Blend in remaining ingredients. 

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto un-greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.

NOTE: If using self-rising flour, omit soda and salt.
SPECIAL NOTE:  Too keep them soft, place a piece of bread in the container.  It works!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Zucchini Casserole...or as the kids called it, Zoo loo casserole.(I don't know why)

This is my 100th post!  So excited.  I have family and friends who look forward to this.Well here you go....

I have a recipe that a very very close friend of our family would make, she passed it down to my sister and now I have it.  I typically don't make this until fall time when the temperature is changing and we want a good casserole.  It also takes about 21/2 hours to make, so you need to plan that into your day.

I made this on Tuesday evening because our dear daughter was staying late at school for a costume fitting.  She is going to be playing Jane in Pride and Prejudice in a few weeks.  Hubby said he would pick her up from school around 6 p.m., so that gave me plenty of time to put this all together.  

Zucchini Casserole

2 to 3 medium zucchini, sliced
2 medium onions, cut in half and then sliced
2 green peppers sliced
1 lb sausage, casing removed
2  14oz. canned diced tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Slat and pepper
Grated mozzarella cheese, 2 cups worth

Cook sausage, crumble and drain.  Add onions, peppers and zucchini.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add tomatoes, oregano and garlic.  Simmer for 30 minutes more, covered.  Layer in a greased casserole dish alternating with grated cheese.  Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  

Note:  When I was making this I added some ricotta salata to the top layer.  We had some left over in the refrigerator and it made sense to add.....tasted good.  I served this with plain white rice.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Homemade Apple Pie Time

Artistic look at my apples!

It seems that every dessert revolves around apples this time of year.  Apple Crisp, Apple Cake and now Apple Pie.  Hubby was looking through twitter this afternoon and found a video from Jordan Winery on making an Apple Pie and the secrets to a flaky crust.  As he sat there listening to this video I started to crave an apple pie.  I wasn't going to try the recipe he was listening too, I have my own apple pie recipe.

Ingredients for Double Pie Crust
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 6 - 7 tablespoons cold water

Stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size. 

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon water at a time, until all the dough is moistened. Divide in half. Form each half into a ball. 

On a lightly floured surface, flatten 1 dough ball. Roll from center to edges into 12-inch circle.

To transfer pastry, wrap it around the rolling pin; unroll into a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry. Transfer filling to pastry-lined pie plate. Trim pastry even with rim of pie plate.

Roll remaining dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Cut slits to allow steam to escape. Place remaining pastry on filling; trim 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate. Fold top pastry under bottom pastry. Crimp edge as desired. Bake as directed in individual recipes (see below) . Makes 8 servings.

Now for the filling:

I always have luck making my own pie crust from the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook that uses flour, salt, shortening (Crisco) and water-4 basic ingredients and it is very easy to make. (See recipe above) Once that is done I flip through the cookbook to the fruit pie chart to find out what I need for an apple pie. For the filling use 5 apples, peeled cored and sliced( 6 cups) , 1/2 to 3/4  of a cup of sugar and a  tablespoon  of flour, and I have the filling all ready to go.  Mix them all together and place in crust.  Place the remaining crust on top, roll and crimp the edges then sprinkle with a little sugar.  Cover edge with foil. Bake at 375 degrees   for 25 minutes, remove foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hubby in the kitchen, but I picked the menu!

If you have read the previous post you know that I told hubby it was time for him to do some cooking this past weekend.  I know how much he enjoys cooking, so as he was perusing the big cooking binder,looking for ideas, I was able to steer him towards one of my favorites.  Yes, it's Giada recipe and is really good.

A couple of years ago hubby saw Giada make this on her show Everyday Italianand  he made for Mother's Day. As we were putung together our grocery list we knew that it had some special ingredients that would require a trip to the grocery store because they are definitely not pantry items.  So on our big grocery shopping extravaganza to the 3 grocery stores in our area we we able to locate all but the dried porcini mushrooms.  I scoured the grocery store looking in produce, Nature's market, the ethnic aisle and the pasta aisle.  I even tried the canned vegetable aisle in search of dried mushrooms.  We tried a little Meditterain market near us with no luck, but struck gold at a small Italian market and deli.  Theonedowside to this is that it cost us about $11 dollars for these mushrooms, but they are worth it.  I believe that it isthe mushrooms that give this dish it's flavor.

Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese


1-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces assorted mushrooms (like shiitake, cremini, and brown), stemmed and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1/4 cup Parmesan

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups very hot water. Set aside and let the mushrooms soften.

Place the carrots, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse the vegetables until finely chopped but still chunky. Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Strain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the porcini mushroom liquid. Add the porcini mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, and tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the porcini mushroom liquid and red wine. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and stir just until the cheese is incorporated.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and add to the vegetable mixture. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid, if necessary, to moisten the sauce. Toss with Parmesan and serve.

Read more at: