Butternut Squash Gratin

Butternut Squash Gratin

Butternut Squash Gratin

Butternut squash has got to be just about my favorite winter vegetable.  For the longest time the only way I ever had it was when it had been boiled till tender, then mashed with butter, and served as a puree.   WOW! I didn’t realize how many different and interesting ways there are to prepare it…..and they’re all so good!

We’ve grown to like it best when it’s left in chunks and there is some “chew” left to it.

This recipe is very easy to make.  Don’t let the name of the dish make it seem like a big deal.  All “gratin” means is a baked dish that has a  crumb topping.    So with that in mind let’s get started making this side dish that goes with so many entrees.  We particularly like it with roast chicken or turkey, but it’s also a great accompaniment to baked ham, or meatloaf.

All that’s required for this dish in addition to the squash, is some melted butter, a little garlic, and crumbs made from Panko and Parmesan cheese.  If you prefer to use a different winter squash in place of the butternut, I’m sure it would work out as well, since many of them are interchangeable.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH GRATIN

Yield:   Makes  4 servingsIMG_8608

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch rounds, or crescents
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Panko crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375*F.   Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Baking dish size needs to be about 8 x 11, or 9 x 13-inches.

2.  Arrange the squash rounds or crescents in rows in the baking dish.

3.  Melt the 4 Tbsp. butter with the minced garlic, in the microwave.

Melt butter with garlic;  mix Panko with cheese for crumbs.

Melt butter with garlic; mix Panko with cheese for crumbs.

4.  Combine the Panko crumbs and the grated Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.  Add 1 Tbsp. melted butter and toss to blend into crumbs.

5.  Brush the remaining butter and garlic mixture on the squash slices.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6.  Sprinkle the crumbs all over the top of the squash.

Top with the crumb mixture.

Top with the crumb mixture.

7.  Bake at 375*F.  uncovered, for 30 – 40 minutes till tender.  Crumbs should be nice and brown.  If not, run under the broiler for about 5 minutes to brown them up, being careful not to burn them.

Toasty, fragrant crumbs, jazz up this winter squash dish.

Toasty, fragrant crumbs, jazz up this winter squash dish.

 

SOURCE:   Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

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Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  It’s a day that revolves around family and food;  a time to think about all the blessings in our lives and to remember all the things for which we are thankful.  The menu that gets served for Thanksgiving dinner is pretty traditional.  Although I like to get creative, Thanksgiving is not the time when I want to have dishes on the table that contain unrecognizable ingredients.

Sweet potato generally is not a vegetable that my family serves, although once in a while we do have a small bowl of them mashed.  This year however, I am making a baked casserole in the Southern tradition.  I auditioned it in advance to see how it would come out before springing it on my family.   It passed the test big time!!   Mr. D. pronounced it “fantastic”.   This is not the usual sweet potato casserole with marshmallows melted and toasty on top.  This one has a crumb topping with pecans in it.  It is so yummy, I would be happy eating it for dessert.  I think this dish is about to become one of our new traditions…..

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Please note:  in the pictures that follow, the quantities you see are reduced from the recipe as I made a smaller version using only 2 large sweet potatoes.

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

Yield:   Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 – 5 large), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes.

    Cut up sweet potatoes into small(ish) cubes.

    Cut up sweet potatoes into small(ish) cubes.

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
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Directions:

1.  Put sweet potatoes in a large saucepan with water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain and mash with a potato masher.  Add 4 Tablespoons butter to hot potatoes and allow it to melt while you prepare the egg mixture.

Add butter to hot potatoes so it can melt in, then mash.

Add butter to hot potatoes so it can melt in, then mash.

2.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish ( or similar size) with cooking spray and set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, mix together white sugar, eggs, salt,  milk, and vanilla until smooth.

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Add to mashed sweet potatoes and stir well to blend smooth.

Add milk/egg mixture to sweet potatoes and blend well.

Add milk/egg mixture to sweet potatoes and blend well.

Pour sweet potato mixture into prepared baking dish.

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4.  In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and flour.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or two knives until mixture looks like coarse sand.  Stir in pecan pieces.

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Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.

Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture.

Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture.

Note:  if you are making this ahead, cover it with foil and put in the fridge at this point.  Then uncover it, put it in the oven, and bake it on Thanksgiving day.  Or you can bake it in advance and just reheat it when you want to serve it.

5.  Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until mixture is heated through and  topping is lightly browned.

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SOURCE:   All Recipes Magazine

 

Good Morning Breakfast Cake

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

In the morning there are often “sleepy-heads” who take their time about getting to breakfast.  If it’s your job to marshall the troops in the morning, this cake might just be the magic that gets everybody up and on their feet.  What, cake for breakfast, you’re asking?  Yes!  This one has all good things in it to jump start the day.

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Starting with pumpkin providing carotene and fiber, add eggs for protein, some walnuts with their heart-healthy oil, a topping that’s heavy on the oatmeal (but I won’t tell if you won’t), and milk.  The flavor is outstanding–not sweet, just right– and the crumb will melt in your mouth especially if served warm.

I baked this cake on a Saturday afternoon intending it for Sunday morning, but we could not ignore the wonderful aroma of it baking.  When I asked Mr. D. if he would like a piece with coffee he replied, “I thought you would never ask.”   It was as flavorful and satisfying as the aroma promised and we both wanted another piece.   (But we didn’t).

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PUMPKIN CRUMB CAKE

SERVINGS:   About 12

INGREDIENTS  for the cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick ) unsalted butter (If you use salted butter, cut back on the salt.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  •  3 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

    Making the crumb topping

    Making the crumb topping

For the TOPPING:

  • 2/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 350*,   grease or spray a 8″ x 11″ baking dish.

2.  In a medium bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients  (flour through salt) and set aside.

3.  In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter till light and fluffy.  Gradually add in the sugar and continue creaming.  Add the eggs one at a time scraping down the sides of the bowl after each.

4.  Add the pumpkin and vanilla and mix in well.

5.  Add in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk just till incorporated.

6.  With a spoon, stir in the nuts.    Pour into the prepared baking dish.

Cake batter in the baking dish.

Cake batter in the baking dish.

7.  Prepare the crumb topping:  In the medium bowl, measure out the oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Whisk together. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives.   Sprinkle over the cake batter in the pan.

Sprinkle on the crumb topping.

Sprinkle on the crumb topping.

8.  Bake at 350* for 45 – 50 minutes.  Test with a toothpick or cake tester for doneness.

Just out of the oven.

Just out of the oven.

Please have a piece while it is still warm to fully appreciate this wonderful cake!

So good warm with a cup of coffee.

So good warm with a cup of coffee.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Do you like Banana Bread?   I do.  I think most people do.  How about Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips in it?   Yes?  Me, too.  How about Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips in it and  –wait for it—- Peanut Butter?   WOW!   Do I have your attention now?   Well, this recipe certainly grabbed my attention,  and I only found it because I cleaned my bookcase.  There fallen down behind several bigger books was an old issue of Taste of Home magazine, March, 2009.

I knew when I found it that I must have kept it because of some recipe that appealed to me.  Sure enough, the turned down page indicated bread recipes that had won a contest. ( 12 of them!)  They all looked so good, it would have been a hard decision which to make first except that I had two ripe bananas, and all the other ingredients on hand,  so that was the decision maker.

The  smell of this bread baking is heavenly and anyone at home when you make it will come running to find out what smells so good and when they can have some.  It has a layer of crumb topping and melted chocolate chips in the middle, and more crumbs on top.  Every bite is scrumptious!  The recipe makes 2 loaves;  8 inch x 4 inch pans.

TOPPING

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

BATTER

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 pkg. ( 8 0z. ) cream cheese softened.  1/3 less fat is OK
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Add the peanut butter, and using a fork, mix in to form a crumbly mixture.  Set aside.

  1. In a large bowl cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in bananas and vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon;  Stir into creamed mixture just till moistened.
  2. Divide half the batter between two greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans; sprinkle with half of the topping.  Top with the chocolate chips.  Repeat layers of batter and topping.

   

  1. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to finish cooling.

    

From My Experience:  If you do not have the exact pan size,  go a little bigger rather than smaller  because this is a fairly large recipe and pans will be full.  Also use more than half the crumb topping in the center of the breads, and less for the crumb topping.  I split mine in half as directed and as the bread rose in the oven the crumbs fell off and burned on the oven floor.  More crumbs fell off as I tried to get the breads out of the pans.  Finally, I would suggest using mini chocolate chips so they melt during baking.  My chips were the large size and they remained whole instead of melting .  Everything tasted wonderful, but these were the problems I encountered.

SOURCE:   Taste of Home magazine,   March, 2009