Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash

I have never cooked an acorn squash – or any winter squash for that matter. Therefore this was a completely new experience for me. It did not hurt that I make rice just about every week and make mushrooms pretty much every week too. Rice, mushrooms, shallots, lemon – just my kind of go to lunch.

I would rather take lunch to work than to go out for it (or breakfast). I think I make pretty good food and I make what I like and that works for me. Why go out and buy something if you are happy with the things you make. And for me, I like to mix things up a bit. Sometimes it is toasted bread with mushrooms and some cheese,  or rice with mushrooms and artichoke hearts. I always have cheese and butter at work – and always always a fresh lemon. I also have a salt and pepper grinders – makes a difference.

I guess that is where my lunch hacks come from. Take something you have and turn it into something new with just what you have, appliance wise, at the office. In my case – toaster, toaster oven, and a microwave. Looking forward to the new office where will have a warming oven. Hoping it gets hot enough to make cookies (350 degrees). That will just smell great.

D&D_24931 acorn squash, cut in half stem to root and scoop out seeds/strings
1/2 cup grain, jasmine rice, cooked, finished w/lemon juice/zest
1 cup vegetables, cooked (crimini mushrooms, shallots, garlic, lemon juice/zest)
1/2 cup extra sharp white cheddar
Additional filling ingredients as desired, dried fruits, nuts, etc.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (convection).

Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and pour in enough hot water to fill the pan by about 1/4 inch. Cover the dish loosely with foil and place the dish in the middle of the oven.

Roast the squash until easily pierced by a paring knife, 30 to 50 minutes. Exact roasting time will depend on the size of your squash.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the filling. Mix filling ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper and any other spice you would like. Or add some dried fruits (I’m thinking cranberry here) or nuts.

Flip the cooked squash halves so they form bowls. Rub the inside with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the filling between the halves — mound the filling on top.

Cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until both are hot and bubbly. Top with extra cheese and serve immediately.

15 minutes at 375 convection, turn 15 more – done.

This was pretty cool. Will be trying more winter squashes. Such a new thing for me. I kind of like the speckled look of the acorn squash. Looks like stars.


Toffee Cookies with Dark Chocolate Glaze

Here I am with another roll-out cookie. Why do I keep doing this to myself? This is my least favorite part of baking – cookies, crackers, pie crusts – rolling things out – even if I do have a great rolling pin – which I do. French rolling pin – made in America. Yep. D&D-9181

You get the idea. Ugh. But this just seems like such a good idea that I could not help myself.

I also plan to do this in my two day method to see if it works – make dough day one, and bake and chocolate on day two. We’ll see, as always.

Baked the cookies one day and did the chocolate bit the next day and then had way too much fun with the toppings – walnuts, Maldon salt, red sprinkles, and a little cayenne. And then did pretty much an evil thing. Mixed up all the cookies in the same container. Take a risk and see what you get. Let’s just say I put the cayenne on the smallest cookies. I think I really like bittersweet chocolate with cayenne. But pretty sure not all my friends will. Like I’ve said before my “test kitchen tasters.”


16 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate – Ghirardelli
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Fleur de sel / Maldon

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix well. Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl, then add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing until well combined.

Shape the dough into a flat disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.*

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out circles with a 2-inch round cutter and place the cookies on the baking sheet.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. Bring water to a simmer in a double boiler, or set up a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan with water in the bottom. Melt the chocolate over the simmering water. When the cookies are cool, spread them gently with a thin layer of melted chocolate. Before the chocolate dries, sprinkle lightly with the pecans and a few grains of fleur de sel. Let the chocolate set. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes 20 – 24 cookies.

Source: The Kitchn adapted from Salty Sweets by Christie Matheson. I think you could sub out other nuts. I did – used walnuts but pecans were called for in the original recipe. Pistachios might be excellent as well, especially with the color contrast on the dark chocolate. Love me some pistachios, but I am keeping this bag for baking not for just munching on. Maybe. We shall see.

*Well, 10 minutes in the fridge was no where near enough. I did, sort of, leave the butter out for a couple of many days. So I left the dough in the fridge overnight and it worked out just fine. Not as an easy dough as the chocolate sugar cookie dough from the other day, but not too difficult.

Roast Beef and Avocado Finger Sandwiches

What is up with me and finger sandwiches for the holidays? Strange.

I haven’t made this appetizer in several years. I remember it being good and that the Boy likes it and that’s about all based on my meticulous notes. I wanted something simple this year for the holidays and while these flavors don’t scream “holidays” at all, they are good nonetheless.

D&D_1493The first time I made this was in the summer and it worked then as well. The important thing with this recipe is to make it at the last minute and not let the bread get dry. Cover with a damp paper towels and some cling film until time serve.

1 ripe Hass avocado
juice of a lime
1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 slices white bread, very thin slices – White Mountain
2 Tbs Duke’s mayo
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, more if you like
1⁄2 lb thinly sliced rare roast beef

In a small bowl mash avocado. Stir in lime juice, chives, salt, and pepper.
Spread avocado mash over 6 slices bread, dividing evenly.

Mix mayonnaise with prepared horseradish.
Spread other 6 slices bread with about 1 teaspoon each horseradish-mayonnaise.
Top with roast beef, dividing evenly.

Gently press avocado-topped bread slices onto each sandwich.

Using long serrated knife, trim off crusts and cut each sandwich lengthwise into thirds.

Makes 18 or so.

16 August 2008 – v.g.

If you have more filling, make more sandwiches. They will not go to waste.

This is just such a great flavor combination and you think the horseradish might over power, but it does not. The creaminess of the avocado and especially the sharpness of the lime all mix together with the roast beef.

You can also toast the bread before you make these and that is good, but don’t go overboard with damp paper towels then or the bread loses it crunch.

Turkey Tea Sandwiches

I tried this on a total fluke and I’ll be damned it they were not delicious. They are one of the Boy’s favorite things. They make no sense, but still work in a simple way – a mixture of flavors that just, oddly, work.

D&D_2578I have no expectation that any of you will try it, but sometimes you just have to let that kitchen curiosity loose and do something for the hell of it. I do that a lot – hell, experimenting in the kitchen is the best part, in my opinion.

12 ounces (1 bar and a half)^ cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
Pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf dense cranberry-walnut bread, thinly sliced at the bakery
1/3 pound thin slices smoked turkey breast – from the deli

Combine the cream cheese, scallions and the salt and pepper in an stand mixer and mix together.*

Lay out 8 slices of bread and spread them all with a decent layer of scallion cream cheese. Place a generous layer of turkey on those slices. Basically just make a sandwich with bread, cream cheese spread, in whatever form it takes, and turkey. This is not rocket science people.

put the sandwiches on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, cover with damp paper towels and wrap the sheet with the ever difficult cling film. Refrigerate until the cream cheese is firm.

Cut off the crusts of each sandwich with a serrated knife and cut each sandwich in half diagonally and then cut each half diagonally again, to make small triangles. Serve chilled or at room temperature (my preference)

Source: Ina Garten with my some few changes.

^Or go all in with two bars of softened cream cheese – why not?

*I added a few extra chopped dried cranberries and some minced chives to the mix.

If you cannot find a dried fruit/nut bread, just find a bread you like – something hearty – and add the dried fruits and nuts to the cream cheese. It works and I have done it several times.

Make sure a decent amount of salt is involved. Some lemon zest probably would not go amiss. A thought for next time perhaps.

Pistachio Oatmeal Lace Cookies

I just cannot resist an oatmeal cookie – with one exception – no chocolate chips in an oatmeal cookie. That is just a very cruel joke – you know what I mean, right. Think it is a raisin and – groan – chocolate.

I know the oatmeal cookie is the red-headed step child of cookies, but it is one of my favorites. Besides, if you like them, you get lots of them when someone brings in cookies from the Publix. The chocolate chip goes right away and the M&M ones too. Leaving poor sad oatmeal cookies just for me (and my friend Dana). Then you can feel superior eating cookies for breakfast. Yes, indeed.

1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
Pinch of salt

D&D_2588Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt and then stir in oats.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars and melted butter until combined. Crack in the egg and pour in the vanilla. Whisk one more time until the egg is thoroughly incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, stirring in between additions until combined. Lastly, fold in the pistachios.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop out balls of dough, spacing them about 2 1/2-inches from one another on a the baking sheets. These cookies read a lot, so be sure to leave enough room. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they spread and the edges are lightly golden brown. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully move the cookies onto a cooling rack.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and salt. When the cookies are cool, drizzle the icing on top.

Source: A Cozy


They are also good without any icing at all. Like a cool breakfast cookie – that makes it sound healthy, right? Yum.

Brownie Roll Out Cookies

I try to make chocolate things for the other people in my life because they just are not for me. Chocolate  – meh-ish to me. This seemed like an interesting idea though. Kind of, basically, a chocolate sugar cookie and then you can mess about with the toppings. Toppings that are mostly sugar and I do love the crunch of that.

D&D_2593I remember when I first started making my favorite sugar cookies,  I would just put plain old white sugar on them. They were beautiful and I just loved the crunch. The Boy did too. So simple – nothing extra to buy and just lovely. I see these cookies in the same light. I’ve said it so many many times, simple is often just the best.

I really like to get input on what I do and the Boy is always an interesting source. See his ideas below.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
16 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 unsweetened cocoa
Sanding sugars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time then add vanilla and cocoa. Add flour a little at a time and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Place on baking sheet, top with any kind of crunchy sugar (this time raw sugar and pretty white sanding sugar), and bake for 8 to 11 minutes until edges are firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Dough 31 December 2017

Bake 4 January 2018 @ midnight – lovely. Ugh – it is just what I do. I cannot help myself.

Bake 5 minutes, turn, and bake for 3 more.

New idea for toppings – mostly from my chief taste-tester – the Boy – raw sugar/Maldon and cayenne. Or brickle bits maybe w/some cayenne as well.

Really easy dough to roll out which make it a favorite for me because I pretty much hate rolling out dough for cookies or crackers – kind of  totally annoying.