butternut squash

So, I’ve had this dish before as my mom has made it. And it has always been yummy. I’ve just never made it because I was under the mistaken impression that my husband doesn’t eat butternut squash. Eight years of marriage and I just discover this.. geesh! So, I made this as a side with beef stroganoff (recipe coming). Perhaps not the best side for the dish but I’m way behind in my BB recipes and I don’t want Tara to yell at me! (just kidding Tara!) I think I may have ‘caramalized’ this a bit more than my mom does but I liked it.. crunchy and caramelly, with an interesting mix of sweet and salty/peppery. It will be made again although perhaps not so caramalized as my 3 year old wouldn’t touch it, but she will eat her Granny’s…. whatever kid!


  • 2 medium butternut squash (4 to 5 pounds total)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

How to pull it all together:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Cut off and discard the ends of each butternut squash.
  •  Peel the squash, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds.
  •  Cut the squash into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch cubes and place them on a baking sheet.
  •  Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. With clean hands(as opposed to your nasty, dirty hands ;o) ), toss all the ingredients together and spread in a single layer on  baking sheet.
  •  Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize.
  • While roasting, turn the squash a few times with a spatula, to be sure it browns evenly. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

FYI: I halved this recipe. Also, butternut squash is a real pain in the butt to peel and cut up. Next time I’ll used the frozen already chopped up ones from the freezer case…..

peanut butter jelly bars2

peanut butter jelly timeIt’s peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time…”

I love that episode of Family Guy… Brian is trying to cheer Peter up by singing and dancing dressed as this banana… singing peanut butter jelly time… Even my 3 year old

sings it!

So, when I saw this recipe posted as part of the Barefoot Bloggers “A Week with the Barefoot Contessa”, I immediately started singing that song and I’ve been having it run

through my head ever since! AGH!!!

Anyway, I decided to make this dessert to bring over to our friend’s house.  It was so easy to make… pretty much fool proof. And it was awesome! It was however, very, very rich and filling. I almost would have made it into bite size pieces… that’s how rich it was.  I used Skippy peanut butter (that was recommended and that was what I had.. gotta love Costco) and I used Polaner’s All Fruit Spread Strawberry Jam (You know.. in an effort to be healthy!) I also used the whole jar of jam which was @ 2 ounces more than the recipe called for since past comments suggested it was a bit dry. It turned out great… By the way, I halved the recipe and still got a ton of bars…. the recipe below is the full recipe. Enjoy your “peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time”!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Source: Barefoot Contessa at Home

Serves: 24 bars


  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
  • 2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

How to pull it all together:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
  • In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
  • Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula.
  • Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam.
  • Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; it will spread in the oven.
  •  Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Cool and cut into squares.

cheddar corn chowderNothing warms you up like a good bowl of soup… or in this case chowder.  Even though the weather is being a bit wacky here on Long Island, (meaning it was freezing 2 days a go and now its going up to 70) this chowder was a perfect fit. Seasoned perfectly, creamy without being too heavy, and yummy sweet corn and chunks of potato… and of course bacon because bacon (like cheese) makes everything better!  Was it completely carbohydrate laden? Yes… but it was worth every spoonful!  FYI: It makes a TON of soup… so if your aren’t planning on eating it all or freezing it maybe half the recipe.

Also, let me know what you think after you make it, but wouldn’t this be good with chunks of shrimp or lobster???

Many thanks to Jill of My Next Life for choosing this as one of October’s recipes.  Check us out at Barefoot Bloggers… see what we’re cooking!

Cheddar Corn Chowder

Source: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Serves: 10-12


  • 8 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped yellow onion (4 large onion)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 6 cups medium diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
  • 10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds) * I used frozen Birds Eye sweet corn
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

How to pull it all together:

  • In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, @ 5 minutes.
  • Remove bacon with slotted spoon and reserve.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook 10 minutes, until onions are translucent.
  • Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
  • If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step).
  • Add the corn to the soup, then add the half and half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.


Mustard Chicken Wings

Mustard Chicken Wings

Another great recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks! Good Cooking-the New Basics by Jill Dupleix. So far, everything I’ve made from this book has been fantastic!

I made this dish for the opening day of football season. I may not enjoy watching football but I enjoy watching other people enjoy it and enjoy eating my food. Do you sense the “joy” theme?

Mustard chicken wings, the Cracker Barrel Mac n’ Cheese, and Beatty’s Chocolate Cake…. and some beer…. good day for all!  What I loved about this was that they were real chicken wings… with real meat on them… not like a canary wing you get out of the frozen bag! The only thing I would do differently is probably follow the directions better.. or at least pay more attention before starting. I didn’t realize you needed to put them on a rack over the tray… so mine were not as crispy as I like them to be. I did put them under the broiler for a few and it helped.  They had lots of flavor and that was only having marinated them for a couple hours. Next time I’ll do it overnight!

Give them a try… you will like them and you probably have all the ingredients in your fridge now! So scoot!


Mustard Chicken Wings

From Good Cooking-the New Basics by Jill Dupleix

Serves 4


  • 8 chicken wings
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 2 bunches watercress
  • 1 orange
  • 4 crisp baby radishes
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ** I did not make the salad so can not comment on it. Items in green are for the salad.

How to pull it all together:

  • Trim the chicken wings and pat dry. Mix the honey, mustard, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper in a bowl, and toss the wings well until coated. Let marinate 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 400°. Place the wings on a rack set above a foil lined pan (to prevent the drips from burning) and bake until sticky and golden, about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, trim the watercress, wash, and spin dry.  Peel the orange thickly, removing the white pith, and cut into sections.  Finely slice the radishes. Toss the watercress, orange, and radishes in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Serve the hot wings with the orange and watercress salad.  ** Again, I didn’t make the salad… salad doesn’t really mesh with beer and football you know? :o)

Beatty's Chocolate CakeCoffee or no Coffee?…. That is the question. 

Let me say that this cake was awesome. Moist, chocolatey, firm enough to hold the icing, and just really, really, yummy!

The only thing I would probably change about it was the icing.  It wasn’t sweet enough for me… it’s not that I’m opposed to the coffee flavoring in the chocolate icing, it just needed more sugar to please my palate. However, if you’re not into super sweet icing than you should have no complaints about this.

Try it… it’s worth the extra bit of effort rather than opening the box of Betty Crocker…. (although that Betty makes some pretty good cakes too! ) Enjoy!

 Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

From Barefoot Contessa at Home, by Ina Garten

Serves 8


  Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows  

  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • How to pull it all together:

    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.  (I used the disposable ones, as I don’t have them for some reason! They worked out great… and I got to throw them out and not wash them!)
    • Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
    •  In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
    •  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.
    • With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
    • Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
    •  Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
    • Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

    Chocolate Frosting:

    • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
    •  1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    •  1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
    • Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
    • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
    • Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes.
    • Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.
    • Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.  ( I didn’t have coffee powder, so I used 2 tsp of hot coffee instead. Maybe that is why it was to coffee flavored for me? I don’t know…)

    Many thanks to Mary of Passionate Perseverance for choosing this recipe! Please check us out at Barefoot Bloggers to see what we’re cooking!

    mac and cheeseSo, if you have not been fortunate enough to visit a Cracker Barrel before, you need to put it on your list of places to go.

    I don’t remember the first one I went to… but I know it was down south as there are no Cracker Barrels that I know of on Long Island… where I am…. so sad!

    You can shop for quirky, country things… buy those penny candy sticks… find those birthday cards with the almanac of what happened and what things cost the year you were born… and get some wicked good mac & cheese! (The chicken and dumplings are awesome too… FYI).

    The results came in from my testers and  this is the best mac and cheese recipe so far!  It even beat Ina’s Grown Up Mac & Cheese! GASP! I know! I know! But my fellow Barefoot Bloggers, it’s true… it’s true…. we all liked this one better than Ina’s Grown Up Mac & Cheese! Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

    Here is the recipe… I got it from another cookbook that my mother in law sent me… This one called More Super Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur. It’s got some great stuff in it… as you will see in posts to come. I made this as part of a football watching party…. since I don’t watch football I needed something to do… So I cooked! I made this with some honey mustard wings so keep your eyes open for the post on that one!


    Cracker Barrel Macaroni N’ Cheese

    From: More Super Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur

    Makes 4-6 side servings



    • 3/4 cup elbow macaroni
    • 3 tablespoons salted butter
    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
    • 2 1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese

    How to pull it all together:

    • Pre-heat broiler to Hi
    • Cook pasta in 4 cups of boiling water for 8 minutes or until tender; drain off water
    • Melt butter in 10″ skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour and continue whisking until bubbly. Add milk, salt, and black pepper and stir until the milk begins to bubble.
    • Add cheese, and then turn off the heat. Whisk sauce until cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
    • Stir in the macaroni, then set skillet under broker for 2-3 minutes, until several browned spots appear on the surface. Remove pan from the oven, let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Cheese will thicken as it rests.

    Note: I didn’t use a skillet as I doubled the recipe for 4 of us for a main meal. I made the sauce in a pot, then mixed the sauce and the macaroni in a baking dish. It worked out fine!


    daquiri 2Note to self:  Never let darling hubby go to the store by himself to buy mango… Good, got that down now.  Too bad it was too late for my poor daiquiris!!

    I had decided to make these as a little drinky poo for when we had some company over last weekend.  When we went grocery shopping the store didn’t have any mango!  What is that about?!?! So the next day, (a few hours before guests are expected) hubby runs to another store to get mango and a few other bits.  The mango was hard as a rock… completely unripe!  That didn’t stop me though!  I had an assignment to complete!  So, since the mango was not very juicy the drink came out very banana flavored as the banana was super ripe… and the lime… slurp! Tart and yummy!  All in all they were good and I have 2 more mangoes ripening to try again this weekend!  Also, a very special thank you to Veronica of Supermarket Serenade for choosing this recipe for the August selection.  If you haven’t checked out Barefoot Bloggers please do!

    Here is the recipe:

    Mango Banana Daiquiris

    Source: Back to Basics by Ina Garten

    Serves 4 (although mine made @ 6 as I used these glasses above)

    • 2 cups chopped ripe mango (1 to 2 mango, peeled and seeded)
    • 1 ripe banana, chopped
    • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
    • 1/4 cup sugar syrup*
    • 1 1/4 cups dark rum, such as Mount Gay (I didn’t have dark rum so I used Bacardi Puerto Rican Rum)
    • Mango slices, for serving
    • Place the mango, banana,  lime juice, sugar syrup, and rum in a blender and process until smooth.  Add 2 cups of ice and process again until smooth and thick.  Serve ice-cold in highball glasses with the mango slices. ( I embellished glass with papaya…. because it was ripe!)

    *To make simple syrup, heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves.  Chill.

    daquiri 1