Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples

Mark BittmanWe play around with ingredients, as foodies, and sometimes the results are just fine or could have been better and then there are times, when flavors blend and one could finish a pot of soup, in one sitting.  I think, this is the soup.  This is a Mark Bittman recipe and if you have read his recipes, you know, he leaves a lot to the cook to decide.  He gives options and the person, at the stove, decides which option is for him/her.  I added mango as an afterthought and it was just right.  Since, I added it, after the soup was blended, I don’t thing the mango flavor was as strong as it could have been

Roasted Butternut Soup with Apples 

Makes 4 servings

1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes  (Acorn, pumpkin or sweet potato would work as well.  Substitute or add them to the recipe.)

1 large onion, chopped

2 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

1/2 teaspoon curry seasoning

salt and black pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

5  cups vegetable broth


1. Peel squash and cut into one inch pieces.   Place pieces in a bowl and cover with water.  Cook on high, checking every five minutes.  When the squash is tender but not mushy, remove it.

2.  In a large pot, place vegetable broth and add squash, onion, seasoning and apples and cook until the vegetables and fruit are cooked through, about 25 minutes.

3. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

4. Use immersion blender to liquefy 3/4 of the soup mixture.  Add the chunky part back and then serve.  I also added a few slices of mango, I had in the refrigerator.

For more recipes from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, check out the feature “Family Food Matters: 3 healthy dinner recipes from Mark Bittman.”

Needless to say, this was a success.  It was smooth and warming, just right for a cool evening.    A possible addition is pumpkin pie spice.  I am on a kick to add pumpkin pie spice to half of my recipes.

If I could keep only 5 cook books in my kitchen, I would put this one, on the top of my list.  I think, you really can make anything from it.   

This is linked to  These Chicks Cook         Real Food Wednesday   Simple Lives Thursdays   Soup Night Saturday Night

Cherry Almond Chocolate Cluster – Ellie Krieger

It is rare that I make recipes from Ellie Krieger that are desserts or sweet.  I like her recipes for the soups, salads and casseroles.  That makes this recipe, even more than a treat.  It was not what I expected from Ellie.  It should have been.  It was simple, not overly done; not too sweet.  Ellie represents, “Just right,” to me.  These clusters were just right.

Cherry Almond Chocolate Cluster


1 cup(s) nuts, almonds, toasted in a dry skillet over a medium-high flame until fragrant, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup(s) cherries, dried tart, coarsely chopped

6 ounce(s) dark chocolate, 72% cacao, finely chopped

I did not coarsely chop any of the above.  I did not think, that the dried cherries whole, were a problem.  The nuts already were  cut into slivers and only had to be roasted. 

I broke the chocolate into pieces.


In a medium bowl, toss together the almonds and cherries. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.

Melt half the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over 1 inch of barely simmering water, over the lowest possible heat, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rest of the chocolate. Remove the top pan with the chocolate in it, gently wipe the bottom, and set it aside for a moment. Replace the simmering water in the bottom pan with warm tap water. Put the pan of melted chocolate on top of the warm water. This will keep the chocolate at the right temperature while you make the clusters.

Stir the fruit/nut mixture into the chocolate. Spoon out heaping tablespoon-sized clusters of the chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Put them in the refrigerator to set for 15 minutes. Store and serve at room temperature.

As far as I am concerned, you can mix and match, with this recipe.  I would like dried apricots with pecans or dried blueberries with walnuts.  Use your imagination and have fun with this.  Go through your cabinets and see what you find that would work with the chocolate.

This is linked to The 36th Avenue            Turning the Table Thursdays

 Ms. enPlace


Pasta Combo

I selected this recipe without reading it.  I had a picture in my mind as to what was to be done and what the ingredients would be.  I was close except for a key ingredient or may be two.  This, Mr. Food recipe had no ricotta and frankly, I think it needs it.

I just saw what my problem is.  I barely glanced at the recipe but I read the description and I see, I misread baked ziti to be lasagna.  No, the words are not similar.  This was all in my head.  I was thinking of what a great combination lasagna and eggplant parmesan were but that was not close to what was written.  I am leaving the original title and will add my changes.

Baked Macaroni and Eggplant Neapolitan is like eggplant parmigiana and baked ziti all rolled into one. Every mouthful is pure delight!

Baked Macaroni and Eggplant Neapolitan

Serves: 6

  • 8 ounces ziti pasta (Penne)
  • Vegetable oil for frying (olive oil)
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 16 ounces Ricotta, divided
  • 2 cups  shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Cook pasta according to package direction; drain.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Cook eggplant, a few slices at a time, until well browned on each side, adding more oil as needed. Drain eggplant on a paper towel-lined platter and cover to keep warm.  (I did this about an hour before, I actually put it together. It is time-consuming.  I also was able to squeeze out more oil, when the time had passed.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a large baking dish with cooking  spray.

Here is where I did everything differently.  This is how I layered it.  Under this is what Mr. Food wrote.  I hope this will not confuse you.          

1.  I put about a cup of Marinara on the bottom of the dish.

2.  I covered this with half of the pasta.

3.  Next layer was one half of the Ricotta cheese.  Use a utensil to smooth it out or drop it in balls on the pasta.

4. Cover with Marinara sauce and half the eggplant.

5.  Sprinkle half of the mozzarella over the Ricotta and then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on top of that.

6.  Now, repeat, pasta, Ricotta, Eggplant, Marinara, Cheese.  Note eggplant, comes before sauce, in this half. 

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  (I basically layered it like lasagna.)

Mr Food speaks:

Layer half the ziti mixture in the prepared baking dish then 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, half the eggplant, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; repeat layers. Top with reserved 1 cup spaghetti  sauce the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella, and remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until heated through.  (Mine was too brown at 30  minutes so it would be good to check it, before that time.

This was delicious.  The eggplant was a nice bite in the middle.  The Ricotta was the binding ingredient.  It was soft and inclusive.  My husband made it clear, he hoped to see it, on our table, again.


Sugar and Dot’s What I Whipped Up Wednesday
Lady Behind the Curtain’s Cast Party Wednesday
Daily Organized Chaos’ Foodie Wednesday
Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

These Chicks Cooked
Wow Me Wednesday

Pennywise Platter

Huh! What Kind of Potatoes?

I am sure the title of this post is confusing.  So is this recipe.  It is called Twice-Baked Potatoes which is what drew me to it, in the first place.  It is not baked once nor twice.  It is fried and it is fried only once.  I could not mislead you by using the title from the book, Look And Cook by Rachel Ray.  On the other hand, I was not comfortable changing it since I followed the recipe except, I did not deep fry these.  I did fry them in a little oil, just covering the bottom without puddling, and that goes against my grain but I have no regrets.  These are delectable.

I made this recipe because it was unusual.  I keep potato flakes in my house and use them in meat loaves or bread cutlets in them.  I find lots of use for these without making mashed potatoes from them.  Surprisingly, the brand I use has no salt but mixed with another coating such as corn meal or ground nuts is tasty.

For years, I kept mentioning to Mr. Soul Mate, I was going to but some potato flakes and the look, he gave me, each time was hysterical.  He looked at me as if he didn’t know me, a quizzical look.

Stop!  I looked at the word, quizzical and was sure it was spelled wrong so I went to check it.  While, I was doing that, I saw the definition and I thought, I would share it with you since it fits perfectly.

: mildly teasing or mocking <a quizzical remark>
: expressive of puzzlement, curiosity, or disbelief <raised a quizzical eyebrow>
I need write no more.  Quizzical is the perfect way to describe his look.  I must add, the look made me think twice as to why I wanted to purchase the flakes and I never had a good reason.  One day, feeling daring, I saw a box, on the shelf in the grocery store, and it was calling my name.  How could I reject that pretty box and all those flakes so into the basket, it went.  I got home and defiantly (yeah sure), I left it on the kitchen table.  Do you know that Mr. Soul Mate didn’t say a word and even better,  he loves when I use them in cooking (of course, not as mashed potatoes).
I was explaining what attracted me to the recipe other than it supposedly being baked and it was the idea that the mashed potato patties were dipped into potato flakes and cooked.  For some strange reason, this appealed to me and I was right.

Twice-Baked Potato Fritters (changed slightly)


  • 1 cup mashed potatoes, use leftovers or make fresh from 4 medium potatoes
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 to 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and  ground black pepper
  • 1 cups dried potato flakes
  • Canola oil, for frying
Yields: 4 servings as a side dish


In a large mixing bowl, combine cooled mashed potatoes, sour cream, cheddar cheese, scallions, egg,  salt and ground black pepper. Mix well.

Pour the potato flakes into a shallow dish.

With a small ice cream scoop or teaspoon, dollop spoonfuls of the potato mixture on the potato flakes. Roll them around in the potato flakes so each mashed potato ball gets thoroughly coated (they should each be about an inch in diameter). Set the coated potato balls aside on a plate and repeat with the rest of the potato mixture .

Once your potatoes are all rolled they can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days.

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add enough canola oil to go two inches up the sides. Let the oil heat up to 375°F — when you put a ball in, it should sizzle but not get dark right away.  (I am leaving that for the brave souls who will make it that way.  I am sure, it tastes better but it was very good with a minimum of oil.  I test the oil by dropping in a drop of water and if it sizzles, it is ready to fry.

I used a skillet, not a saucepan.  As, I said, I wet the bottom and I put many in the pan, leaving space between them.  Once they are golden brown on all sides, remove with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess oil. Repeat until all the potato balls are fried.

If you aren’t serving them right away or are bringing them somewhere, pack them up gently or place them on a baking sheet. Right before serving, place them in a 400°F oven, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, until they are heated through and crisp.

If you would like the original recipe you can find it here.


   What I Whipped Up Wednesday           Prairie Story

Curly Cheddar Bake

Every once in the while, I discover an old cookbook , hidden in the recesses of a bookcase.  There is something very exciting about such discoveries.  What could an older cookbook have that our new ones don’t have?  I thought I would find a lack of specific terms such as Thai, pesto, capellini and even couscous.  It is not that they did not have these, it is that I don’t remember them at all.

It is not unusual to find an older book, not being used, with so many diverse new cookbooks on the horizon.  Each time, I tell myself, I am not buying any new books,  one comes out that sounds different and intriguing.  These are the times that it is good, I am thrifty, by nature.  Despite this character trait, I still fall prey to the advertising and in the past few years have increased my collection of recipes, whether from books, magazines or the Internet, many fold.

I have made it a practice, every few months, to pull an unused cookbook, off the shelves and cook from it.  I am not sure, it is going to Be Mr. Food, although he has a website, with many ebooks to download, and his recipes, could keep be busy for ages.  My guess, a baking book, will be the one that wins.  Tune in and we will see what I find.  In the meanwhile, I plan to make a few of Mr. Food’s quick and easy side dishes.

The book, I found, was published in 1995 and called Mr. Food’s Quick and Easy Side Dishes.   I perused the pages, hastily, just to get an idea of what I would find.  Indeed, the recipes were easy but they were not the famous five ingredient type.   They had what they needed to make a tasty dish.  For a small book about 5 x7, it had a lot in it.  Mr. Food gives all kinds of advice and tips throughout the book.  There is variety in the recipes.

While, this is not gourmet cooking, it appears to be good cooking.  It is a great book to have on hand when you want to make a meal without complications.  You will have, on hand, most of the ingredients and the techniques, from my quick look, are clear to follow and to do.

I had in mind, before even finding the book,  macaroni and cheese for dinner.  I, also had in mind, I did not want to work hard.  I wanted  1-2-3 to have a meal sitting, in front of me.  This basically did just that.

Mr. Food’s Curly Cheddar Bake  (altered recipe)

  • 3/4 pound shaped pasta (spirals)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1  cup milk  (I use 1 percent and it works.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup of chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 cup additional Cheddar cheese


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cook the macaroni according to package directions; drain well and place in a large bowl.

Add  Cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the margarine, Parmesan cheese, and eggs; mix well. Add the remaining ingredients.

Pour into an oval baking dish that has been coated with nonstick vegetable spray. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the center is set.

Mr. Food says that this is as good the next day as when it was baked.  We had a small piece left and it was good.

Do I recommend it? – Yes.

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