Chicken Parmesan & Butternut Squash Bowl

Hi friends– With all the cakes and cookies we bake around here, I’m trying to stick to healthy-ish meals at dinner time.  This was a favorite.  Our student “room mate” Kendall even asked it this was hard to make.  I think he’s yet to develop kitchen skills (but he’s awesome philosophy student!).  I think you’d like this quick week night dinner as much as we did…

1 large chicken boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tab. olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 small butternut squash, peeled & cut to small chunks
2 cups farro
14 oz. can chicken broth
1  3/4 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. dried basil
1/3 cup cream (or whole milk)
1/2 cup parmesan
garnish:  green onion sliced

Cut the chicken breast into small bits.  Heat the oil in a large skillet and then drop in the chicken.  Salt and pepper it liberally and cook 5 or 6 minutes until the chicken is browned and cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the skillet.

In the same skillet, drop the butternut squash into the chicken drippings and cook 2 or 3 minutes.  Then add in the farro, chicken broth, water, salt, pepper and basil.  Bring it to a low simmer and cook uncovered for 12 to 15 minutes, until the squash is tender (but not mushy!) and the farro is cooked through.

Then stir in the chicken, parmesan and cream. And simmer a minute or two more to heat it all up.  Spoon it all up onto dinner plates and garnish with green onion.  Hot and hearty!


Butternut Squash Apple Cider Soup



Hey there–Been wanting to make this soup every since my stay with Ani and Brian, when she made a pot of this for our dinner there (thanks Ani!).  It has a couple secret ingredients that make it rich and flavorful– beer and apple cider!  With a simple salad, a warming winter meal.

2 tab. butter
5 cups butternut squash, peeled & cut in cubes
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
12 oz. bottle pale ale
1 cup apple cider
14 oz. can chicken broth
1 cup cheddar
garnish: sour cream, pumpkin seeds, black pepper, marjoram leaves

Melt the butter in a soup pot.  Then drop in the squash, garlic, onion and salt.  Saute 7 or 8 minutes until the squash is slightly softened.

Pour in the ale, cider and chicken broth. Simmer on medium low for 10 minutes until the squash is softened.  Transfer the soup to a blender -or use a stick blender to puree until it is smooth.

In the soup pot, stir the cheddar into the soup until it melts.  And serve it up hot and steamy.



Maple Butternut Squash Mash


Hi there– Our big Christmas meal is on Christmas Eve, with the Great Grandparents and family come in from far and wide.  It’s a little hectic (read, stressful) getting it all on.  And a definite squish to squeeze all of us around the table.  But it’s one of my favorite parts of Christmas, Larry pouring wine, Jodi taking pictures, Laurel and the grand-girls trading puns.

And here’s one of the things we served up this year…

1 large butternut squash, peeled & cubed
(about 6 cups of cubes)*
3 tab. olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
garnish: sliced green onion (or pumpkin seeds or pecans or feta… )


Peel and cube the butternut squash.  Then mix it in a bowl with the olive oil and liberally salt and pepper it.  Spread the squash out on two baking sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Roast the squash in a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes until it is tender.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the roasted squash, milk, vanilla, salt and maple syrup with an electric mixer or a stick blender.  Continue beating until it is smooth and creamy.  Serve it up nice and hot (you can make this ahead and heat it in the microwave at the last minute).

*Cooking the big meal for Christmas Eve, I didn’t want to take the time to peel and big squash, so I used 2– 32 oz. bags of cubed squash from Trader Joe’s.  Works fine in this recipe.

And here’s the family, sitting down to eat our Christmas Eve lunch.

Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna


Hello all–I know you’re maybe thinking ahead to Christmas (we put up our tree last night–all those beloved, slightly tattered ornaments coming out of boxes– love it!),  but I wanted to send out one more Thanksgiving-ish recipe before it’s all sugar cookies and Christmas hams.

My extended family meet up for Thanksgiving the weekend ahead.  We don’t do turkey. We’ll all have turkey with other in-laws on Thanksgiving day.  This year it was a couple kinds of lasagna.  And I like this veggie laden version–cheesy and a bit sweet from the butternut squash.  It was a fine Thanksgiving meal at the table with my mom and assorted nieces and nephews…  (and we did finish off with pumpkin pie!)


1 smallish butternut squash
3 tab. olive oil
garlic salt & freshly ground pepper
4 cups shredded spinach leaves
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup parmesan romano
3 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
9 no-cook lasagna noodles (Barilla is good)
1 cup parmesan romano
1 cup ricotta
2 cups mozzarella

Peel the butternut squash and remove the seeds.  Then chop it into smallish chunks.  In a bowl mix the butternut squash chunks with 3 tablespoons olive oil, a few shakes of garlic salt and a few grinds of freshly ground pepper. Spread the squash on a baking sheet and scrape the oil out of bowl over the squash.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until the squash just starts to brown around the edges.

While that’s cooking, wash and dry the spinach leaves, remove stems and cut them to shreds.

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a large skillet and then stir in the flour and parmesan before it browns.  Stir in the milk 1/2 cup at a time with a whisk to reduce lumps.  Continue until all the milk is combined and then simmer on low 3 or 4 minutes more until the sauce sauce thickens.  Add salt as needed (I did 1/2 tsp.)

When the squash is cooked, put the lasagna together in a 9″x 13″ making dish. Start by coating the bottom of the dish with about 1/2 cup of the white sauce.  Lay down 3 of the noodles and then layer on 1/3 of the spinach, 1/3 of the squash, 1/3 of the ricotta dropped in little dollops across the pan, 1/3 of the white space, 1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the parmesan.

Repeat that layering 2 more times to make 3 equal layers.  Cover the baking dish with foil (not touching the top of the lasagna).  Bake it covered 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Remove the foil and bake 5 or 10 minutes more until the top in nicely browned.

Let the lasagna sit 10 minutes to meld together before cutting into it.  Enjoy it hot and savory!!


Pork & Butternut Squash in Maple Glaze



Hi all-  My sis Lulu and I were snooping around the mall and wandered into the William Sonoma store (one of our favorite window shopping stops).  The clerk there was giving out sample of stewed chicken and veggies cooked in their bottled maple bourbon sauce.  It was delish– and set me to thinking about dinner at home.

So I chunked up a pork loin and roasted squash to stir up in my own simple version of a maple glaze.  It turned out just fine– enjoyed it with my sister and her husband sitting at the table with us.  That makes every meal good!

1 1/2 pound (or a little more) pork loin
3 tab. olive oil
1 small butternut squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper, chopped to small bits
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 green onions, cut to bits-green part only

3/4 cup water
3 tab. soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tab. cornstarch

Cut the butternut squash in two halves the long way, and scoop out the seeds the stringy part of the squash.  Put it cut side down on a baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until the the squash is tender and slices easily with a paring knife. When it cools a bit, peel off the skin with a knife and cut it into small chunks.

To get the sauce ready, put the water, soy sauce, maple syrup and cornstarch in a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake it heartily until it’s all well blended and set aside.

Cut the pork into smallish chunks.  Heat a large skillet with the 3 tab. of olive oil on medium high.  Drop in the pork and cook 8 to 10 minutes until the pork is browned and cooked through, but still tender. Remove the pork from the pan, but leave on the heat.

Put the butternut squash and bell pepper in the hot pan for two or three minutes to absorb the juices in the pan.  Add the pork back in.  Then give the sauce a few more shakes to make sure it’s all blended and then stir it in to the pan until the sauce thickens, 2 or 3 minutes.

When you’re ready to serve it up, stir the almonds into the pork mixture.  Serve it with rice or farro or noodles on a large platter and garnish the top with the green onions.  Rich and delicious!



Squash & Kale Salad

IMG_2778Hi there– It’s been nothing but gray skies and rain around here the last couple days–  but in dry, dry Southern California, we’re thrilled to see all that wet stuff coming out of the sky!  And to combat all that gray gloom, here’s a bright spritely salad.  Love all the colors and textures and tastes– the roasted squash, sweet berries, salty feta, crunchy seeds.  It really is a mouthful.

3 or 4 kale leaves, chopped fine
10 oz. (about 2 cups) butternut squash, peeled & cut in small cubes
3 tab. olive oil
garlic salt
dried basil
1/4 cup dried cranberries, minced
1/4 cup herbed feta, crumbled
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. cider vinegar
1 tsp. seedy mustard
1 tsp. apricot jam
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

In a bowl mix the squash with the 3 tab. olive oil, a few shakes of garlic salt and a pinch of dried basil.  When the squash is well coated, spoon it on to a baking sheet and scape all the extra olive oil from the bowl over the squash.  Bake it at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until the squash begins to brown around the edges.  Let is cool.

Then layer the chopped kale, roasted squash, cranberries, feta and pumpkin seeds onto a pretty plate.

In a container with a tight lid, shake together the 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, mustard, jam and salt & pepper– until it is thoroughly blended.

Pour the dressing over the salad and serve it up– Makes two or three big servings.

Butternut Squash & Bacon Pasta

IMG_7013Well, hello there– Butternut squash and bacon– they just belong together– like peanut butter & jelly or strawberries & cream or pastrami & rye…  I’ve ventured into a few squash bacon and pasta recipes in the past.  And pretty much loved them all.  So here is my new favorite.  Sweet squash, salty bacon, a hint of sage and all those creamy egg noodles.  How could help itself?  It’s just meant to be luscious!!

4 oz. bacon (1/4 pound), cut to bits
1 tab. sage, chopped
2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cubed
(about 3 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cups chicken broth
12 oz. fettucine, linguine or egg noodles
1/2 cup parmesan romano cheese

Drop the cut up bacon into a hot non-stick pan and cook until it’s nicely done, stir in the sage at the last minutes and then scoop it all out of the pan, leaving enough of the drippings to coat the pan.

Then drop the chopped onion, garlic and squash into the same pan and cook it unit the onion begins to brown, about 8-10 minutes (you can add a splash of olive oil if the pan gets too dry).  Salt and pepper it all as it’s cooking.

Then add the broth.  Simmer until the squash is soft and about half of the broth has evaporated, about 15 minutes.  Let it cool a bit and then puree it with a stick blender (or in a regular blender or food processor).  Add salt & pepper if needed and the parmesan cheese.  Fold in the bacon and sage.

While all that’s happening, cook the pasta according the package directions.  Drain well and spoon the squash puree over the noodles.  Garnish with more cheese and sage if you like.  So good!

Butternut Coconut Curry Soup

IMG_8197Hi friends–  Did you have a fine full Christmas?  I’m hoping so.  After all that eating (and eating) here’s a simple soup that is just right for a winter day.  Savory and steaming hot it warms you all the way down.  I had a version of this at a downtown lunch place in San Francisco called D.G.F. (darn good food) at Thanksgiving time and have been hungry for it every since.  It’s a new favorite.

1 butternut squash, 2-2 1/2 pounds
2 14 oz. can coconut milk
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
3 green onions, white & green parts chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, minced
2 tsp. honey
3 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. orange vinegar*
salt to taste
more green onions for garnish

Peel the squash and take out the seeds.  Cut it up into 2″ chunks.  Toss the squash, coconut milk, chicken broth, green onion, garlic and ginger into a soup pot and simmer it for 25-30 minutes until the squash is tender.  Add the honey, curry, vinegar and salt if you think you need it (I didn’t) and cook for 5 more minutes.  Use a stick blender or food processor to puree the soup til it’s rich and creamy.  Serve hot, hot with a sprinkle of green onion bits on top.  So good!

*Trader Joe’s has a mouth watering Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar that works well in this recipe and is killer for dressings on fruity salads.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Hi friends– Here’s a vegetable even finicky kids will gobble up.  The squash roasts to a perfect sweetness, offset by the ginger and cumin and sharp saltiness.  We thought it was delectable.

1 medium butternut squash
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

With a sharp knife, cut the skin off the squash and scoop out the seeds inside.  Cut the squash into nice chunks and toss them into a bowl.  Stir in the olive oil, cumin, ginger and salt.  to coat all the squash.  Spread it out on one (or two large cookie sheets) so that the squash is not piled up on each other.  Then roast at 450 degrees 20 to 25 minutes until browned–crispy around the edges and tender in the center.  Toss the hot squash with the cilantro and pile into a serving bowl.

We set this on the table yesterday with Paprika Orange Salmon (see the May 3rd post), zucchini rice, flax seed bread and a bright green salad loaded with nectarines and almonds.  A satisfying Sunday lunch.