Butternut Squash & Cranberry Couscous


Butternut Squash and Cranberry Couscous

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Couscous

For our Christmas dinner, this was one of the side dishes I made to go with Cider-Glazed Baked Spiral Ham.  

This colorful and somewhat unusual side dish may be served hot or at room temperature for a fall-inspired salad.


Yield:   Make 8 – 10 servings as a side dish or 7-8 as a salad


  • 4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, divided
  • cooking spray
  • 5 oz. pkg. dried cranberries
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 10-oz. pkg.  couscous
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice


1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl, toss the butternut squash with 1 teaspoon olive oil , 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Place on baking  sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until tender.

Roasted squash with celery added.

Roasted squash with celery added. 

3.  In a small bowl, rehydrate the dried cranberries by combining with 2 cups hot water.  Soak for 1 minute, then drain.

4.  In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 Tablespoon olive oil to a boil.  Stir in couscous and cover, remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes.  Remove cover, fluff and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

5.  In a large pan or bowl, combine the couscous, squash, cranberries, celery and remaining ingredients.  Serve warm or allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Cook the couscous and add the remaining ingredients.

Cook the couscous and add the remaining ingredients.

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Couscous

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Couscous


SOURCE:   Vegetarian


New Year’s Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

Today’s recipe was previously published, but I pulled it up from the archives because it is so fantastic that it deserves another viewing, especially for new readers.

I frequently make this soup for New Year’s Day.  Of course, I make it at other times too, but for some reason I connect it with New Years.  As yesterday’s post said, some people eat peas, pidgin peas, black-eyed peas, lentils and  beans to celebrate the new year, and supposedly they represent prosperity and good luck.  So if eating pea soup will bring me those things, then I will gladly eat it.   Not only for that reason, but because  it’s really good.

This recipe makes a big pot of  hearty, thick pea soup with bits of ham or other smoked meat and carrots swimming in it. It will fill you and warm you up on a cold day.  As I write this a pot of this goodness is simmering away on the back burner of my stove, filling my kitchen with it’s wonderful smokey smell while outside the sun is shining but the wind is blowing as the latest snow storm moves away from us.  A great day to be inside, waiting expectantly for dinner.


I developed this recipe as presented here, but it began as a basic recipe for split pea soup.  I find that adding some granular chicken bouillon to the broth enriches it, and I particularly like using Sazon Goya as an all-purpose seasoning.  This can be found in the Spanish foods section of the supermarket.  I also like the subtle flavor of garlic, so I use at least 4 cloves.  That may seem like a lot, but with the long slow simmer it gets, it is not a strong flavor, but rather an undertone.  For smokiness I like to use smoked pork neck bones if I can find them, however a nice meaty ham bone does just as well, or failing that use a piece of kielbasa.

Smoked pork neck bones.

Smoked pork neck bones.

As you can see this soup is very versatile,  you can’t do anything to ruin it, so play with the ingredients and make it your own.  But do try it!


YIELD:    6 – 8 servings

  • 1 pound dried split green peas
  • 1 Tablespoon granular chicken bouillon
  •  3/4 pound smoked ham or 1 ham hock
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3-4 clove garlic
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 2 packets, Sazon Goya seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

    Split green peas, bay leaves. and Sazon Goya

    Split green peas, bay leaves. and Sazon Goya

  • 8 – 10 cups water

1.  In a large soup pot  ( 6 -8 quart), measure in the water.  I start with 8 cups, and add liquid as necessary because pea soup tends to absorb liquid and become quite thick.  Rinse the peas and add to the pot of water.  Over medium-high heat start the soup cooking.

2.  Add in all the rest of the ingredients, with the exception of the carrot, and bring to a boil.

.On its way to becoming a delicious and hearty bowl of soup.

.On its way to becoming a delicious and hearty bowl of soup.

3.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer on low for about 2 hours.  Peas should be totally cooked and dissolved into the broth.

4.  Remove the ham bone, or bones, and bay leaf.  Let cool slightly, then remove any meat from bones and set aside.

5.  Using an immersion blender or standard blender, puree the soup.  Return to soup pot, return meat to soup.

6.  Peel and dice the carrot, add to the soup and cook on low until carrot is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Alternately you may cook the carrot in the soup from the beginning, but then it gets pureed along with everything else.  I like to see the bits of carrot in the soup with the ham.

7.  Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as necessary.  It’s best to wait till the end, because the bouillon and the ham will add saltiness.

To serve you might want to float a few well seasoned croutons on top of each bowl, and serve with a great loaf of bread.




Eat These and Have Good Luck!

Happy New Year, my friends!  I’ve been away from home for the holidays, and not doing a lot of cooking, (eating–yes,yes!) so my posts have been a little leaner than usual.  The subject of “foods that bring good luck” came up in a conversation, so I did  a little research and found some interesting facts that I thought might be of interest to you, as they were to me.  In planning meals over the next few days you might want to consider the following.

In many cultures certain foods are thought to bring good luck, especially those eaten on New Year’s Day.  With today being the first day of the new year I though it might be fun to see what some of those foods are and possibly how to incorporate them into a celebration menu.

In Spain, revelers mark the New Year by quickly eating a dozen grapes at midnight.  The fruits are thought to be a predictor of the year ahead:  each sweet grape represents a good month, each sour grape a less-than-lucky one.  You might adopt this tradition by threading grapes onto skewers and serve each one in a glass of Champagne just before the countdown.

In Italy, lentils are served because an abundance of the tiny legumes symbolizes wealth.  Turn this tradition into a flavorful and hearty lentil soup, to ensure the best year possible.

Circular foods, those that are in the form of a ring, are thought to bring good luck.  Possibly because they symbolize “coming full circle”.   A big bag of doughnuts seems like a fine idea for making this one a reality.

In some Eastern European countries, a coin baked into a loaf of bread is said to bring luck to the person who finds it.  A marble pound cake with a coin or two baked in it would make a fancy enough dessert if served with a dessert wine.

One of Japan’s beloved foods, soba, or buckwheat noodles, are customarily eaten at midnight on December 31, when they are called  toshi-koshi (“from one year to another”) soba.  The noodles symbolize longevity, so the longer they are, the better.  Any Asian dish that incorporates soba noodles would make a perfect entree for this custom.

In the southern U.S. many folks eat greens on New Year’s Day.  Collards and other greens are considered lucky because they look like greenbacks.  Collards and black eyed peas are a common combination for the New Year. (Often served with ham.)

Going along with the above tradition is this one for eating pork.  Ham, because of its fat is served to bring a New Year rich with happiness.

Cornbread is another southern dish that gets served along with the ham, collards and black eyed peas.  Cornbread, because of its yellow color, represents the glories of gold.

If I were serving a meal to ring in the New Year (which I am not),  my menu might look something like this:

Champagne Cocktail with grape skewer garnish

Sausage & Lentil Soup

Asian Noodle Salad

Orange Marmalade-Glazed Baked Ham

Collard Greens and Black-eyed Peas

Cornbread with Chive Butter

Chocolate Ganache-Glazed Marble Pound Cake

Cake Doughnuts with French Vanilla Ice Cream


Thankfully, I won’t be eating a meal like this one.  If I did I would need a  crane to lift me away from the table!  I think in the end, you could overdo this “good luck” thing, but it was fun playing around with it.

However you will be spending the first day of 2014,  I hope you have fun with family, friends and, of course, good food.