Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

1 (1 ½-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
Good olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
¾ cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
½ cup walnut halves, toasted
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about ¼ cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, ½ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten, and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

(courtesy of Barefoot Contessa)


Toffee Squares


2 sticks butter
1 c packed brown sugar
1 whole egg
2 t vanilla
2 c all-purpose flour
2 c chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
3/4 c finely chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and flour and mix until combined.

Spread on cookie sheet with an offset spatula until thin. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.

Remove pan from oven and sprinkle on chocolate chips. Return to oven for 1 minute.

Remove from oven and spread chocolate thinly over the cookie layer.

Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Cut into squares.

French Onion Soup

1/4 c butter
4 lb onions (sliced)
1/4 c flour
1 c red wine (or beef or vegetable broth + 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
3 c beef broth (or vegetable broth)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 t thyme (chopped)
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste
4 ½ in thick slices of day old bread (toasted)
1 c gruyere (grated)
1/4 c parmigiano reggiano (grated)

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook slowly at low with the lid on until golden brown and caramelized, about 2-3 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions, stir to combine and let cook until it starts to caramelize. Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Add the broth, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves, salt and pepper and bring to a boil at medium heat.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. Preheat oven broiler.

Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls and place the bowls on a baking sheet. Sprinkle a little cheese on top of the soup. Place a toasted slice of bread over each bowl and top with the cheese. Place bowls under broiler until cheese melts, only 2-3 minutes.

Pesto Salmon

Salmon filet
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Pesto (homemade or store bought)

Preaheat the oven to 375.

Marinate with olive oil, lemon juice, a hefty amount of salt and pepper.

Sautee or grill for a minute or two. Remove from the pan/grill, place in a loaf pan or baking dish (preferably one with sides) and top with pesto and capers. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through.

Duck Ragu with Papparadelle

2 duck breasts
2 T cinnamon
extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt
4 slices of bacon (preferably duck bacon)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 medium carrots
5 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
3 14-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
1/4 c plus 2 T tomato paste
1 pound papparadelle
1/2 c parmesan

Marinate the duck with olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon. Let it sit for 30 min. Smoke duck. If you can’t smoke it, roast it for 2 hours on 350, flipping the meat every 30 minutes. Drain the fat and discard.

While the duck is roasting, heat 2 T olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until starting to crisp. Add the onion, carrots, garlic. Turn the heat down to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until softened. Add the tomatoes and their juice and put 1/2 c water into one can, swish it around to get all the tomatoe stuck to the sides of the can, pour into the next can, and repeat with the third. Add the tomato water to the Dutch oven along with the wine, a good grind of pepper and a healthy pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down very low and let simmer for 1 hour and 15 min.

After the duck has cooled, remove and discard the skin and shred the meat. Fold the duck meat into the ragu along with the tomato paste and cook on very low heat, uncovered for at least 1 hour and up to 4, adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from drying out (continue to season with salt and pepper as you splash).

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Divide the pasta among bowls and spoon a generous amount of duck ragu over the pasta. Top with parmesan cheese.

(adapted from My Father’s Daughter)

White Bean Soup

3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion sliced
3 garlic cloves
2 pinches of red chile flakes
1/4 t oregano
1/4 t black pepper
2 14-oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 pints vegetable stock
coarse salt

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sautee. Turn heat to as low as it can go and cook for 1/2 hour, stirring here and there. A little color is okay, but you want the vegetables to get soft and sweet. Add the chile flakes, oregano and pepper and cook for a minute. Add the beans and stock, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, add salt to taste and cook on low for 1 hour.

(adapted from My Father’s Daughter)

Beef and Bean Enchilada Stack

6 flour tortillas
1 lb of lean beef (chicken, pork, or shrimp would work well too)
½ yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of red enchilada sauce
½ jar of bean dip
olive oil
1 package of Mexican cheese blend

Preheat the oven to 350

In a large pan with olive oil, sautee the garlic for one minute, add the onion. Sautee until almost translucent. Add the beef. Stir until cooked through.

In a 9×13 pyrex dish, pour a little of the enchilada sauce to coat the bottom. Add two tortillas, overlapping slightly. Spread bean dip along the top of the tortillas (2 T each). Using a slotted spoon, add the beef/onion/garlic mixture. Sprinkle cheese across the top, drizzle with enchilada sauce and top with two more tortillas (overlapping). Repeat layering one more time, top with two more tortillas and then drizzle with enchilada sauce and another handful of cheese.

Bake for 35 minutes or until bubbly.

Greek Tortellini Pasta

1 package of cheese tortellini
1 can of artichoke hearts (drained, quartered)
1 container of pitted Kalmata olives
1 T of capers
3 garlic cloves, minced
handful of parmesan cheese
3 T pesto (homemade or store-bought)
olive oil

Cook the tortellini per the directions on the package.

Sautee the minced garlic cloves in olive oil. Add the capers, artichokes, and olives. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Add pesto and continue to stir until the mixture thickens. Add the tortellini. Stir to coat.

Serve warm with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.