Archive for the ‘Sides’ Category

How to Roast a Spaghetti Squash

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Thanks to some of my own dietary hurdles this year, I have been trying to make modifications to my diet that include limiting my carb intake. Spaghetti squash is my new favorite food to eat that offers a healthy and nutritious lunch option that makes me feel like I am indulging in a big bowl of pasta without the heavy carbs that I am trying to avoid.

Today I wanted to share a little background on this vegetable, some ideas for preparation, how to store this veggie, and even how to freeze it.

What Is Spaghetti Squash?

Spaghetti squash is a favorite vegetable for people seeking a low carb, vegetarian, or vegan diet. The spaghetti squash is an oblong seed-bearing variety of winter squash. The fruit can range either from ivory to yellow or orange in color.  Its center contains many large seeds. When raw, the flesh is solid and similar to other raw squash; when cooked, the flesh falls away from the fruit in ribbons or in strands that resemble spaghetti.

What Does Spaghetti Squash Taste Like?

Spaghetti squash, sadly, does not taste anything like spaghetti. Although its appearance resembles the pasta, it has a crunchy bite that reminds me of the crunchy exterior of a pile of hash brown potatoes. The flavor is mild and pleasing, making it a great pairing for bold and robust flavors like bright sauces, lemons, capers, and pestos. Despite, it just being a vegetable, I find it to be as filling as spaghetti. A quarter of a squash provides plenty of food food for one person and when paired with a big dinner salad, it will leave you feeling full until dinnertime.

What Are My Options for Preparation?

Spaghetti squash can be prepared in your microwave, roasted on a cookie sheet, or even prepared in your slow cooker. It can be cooked whole, eliminating the need to heave your body into a cutting board to cut through this thick vegetable, or it can be sliced in half, drizzled with olive oil, and spiced according to your dishes. I have only roasted this vegetable, so far, and the recipe for that can be found below. If you would like other options for preparation, here are a couple of other ideas for preparing the vegetable.

Microwave Method: Carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Season each half with salt and pepper. In a microwave safe dish add about 1/2 inch water to the bottom of the container. Add the spaghetti squash halves with flesh facing down. Microwave for 4-5 minutes until the flesh comes out easily with a fork.

Slow Cooker Method: Select a spaghetti squash that will fit in your slow cooker. Poke the squash several times using a fork. Place two cups of water in the slow cooker, then place the spaghetti squash in the cooker.  Cook the spaghetti squash on low heat for eight to 10 hours, or until the squash is tender. Allow the squash to cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove the squash from the slow cooker. Cut the cooked squash in half. Remove the seeds and serve.

Roasting Method: This is my preferred method for seasoning and flavor. You can grab the recipe below.

Boiling Method:  Cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Bring salted water to a boil in a saucepan. Place the spaghetti squash in the saucepan with its skin side up. Bring to a boil once again. Bring down the heat to medium heat. Boil 10-15 minutes. You can check the spaghetti squash with a fork to see if the strands are pulling away. If not, keep boiling until you reach your desired results.

How Long Can I Store a Spaghetti Squash?

There is no need to take up any refrigerator space with this squash! I think one of the best parts about the spaghetti squash is that they are relatively inexpensive and can keep for one to two months in a cool dark place, making it a great frugal ingredient to rely upon when times are more lean or the pantry is bare. Stock up on this ingredient when it goes on sale and roast it for an easy main dish for yourself or your whole family The possibilities with this ingredient are truly endless since it can be transformed into a pasta-inspired dish to a simple dessert with a little butter, cinnamon, and sugar.

Refrigerate cooked spaghetti squash or other types of winter squash in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap for up to 3 to 5 days. The squash should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking to prevent bacteria growth and spoilage.

Can I Freeze Spaghetti Squash?

The best part about this vegetable is that you can prepare it in large batches, if desired, and freeze it for your future meals. Freeze batches of spaghetti squash in airtight freezer containers or in freezer bags, making sure all of the air is out of them. Once your spaghetti squash is frozen it will last for several months. When you are ready to use it pull it out of the freezer and take it out of the container. You can heat it up in a microwave or in a pan of water, then simply use it for your recipes.

How to Roast a Spaghetti Squash
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Spaghetti squash is a delicious substitution for pasta in many dishes. This recipe offers advice on how to roast a spaghetti squash to be used as an ingredient with your favorite toppings.
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Be sure to exercise caution and use a sharpened chef's knife for the task since this vegetable is a tough one to slice.
  3. Scoop out and discard the seeds from the squash.
  4. Brush the flesh with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Invert your squash on the cooking sheet, flesh side down.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Pull the squash out and carefully flip your squash so that the flesh is now upright. Bake again for ten more minutes.
  8. Pull the squash out and let it rest for 10-20 minutes. The resting is very important so that the strings of flesh pull out and look like noodles.
  9. Taking a fork gently glide it inside the flesh of the squash and pull the fork down lengthwise, separating the flesh from the skin.
  10. Top the spaghetti squash strands with your favorite pasta toppings or incorporate it in your recipes. See notes above for freezer storage.

If you like this cooking tutorial,  be sure to visit my tutorial on How to Cook A Butternut Squash With the Skin On, How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker, & grab my recipe for Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Pecans for a delicious weeknight meal!


What are your favorite ways to serve up Spaghetti Squash? I would love to hear your recipes and topping ideas!

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Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Continuing our theme with easy no-bake treats that cost under $5 or less, I wanted to share with you my easy microwave peanut brittle for holiday gift giving. Making peanut brittle in the microwave is so easy and is the perfect gift to give for the holiday season. If you haven’t tried making microwave peanut brittle, you are in for a real treat.

This brittle makes a perfect guy gift to give paired with an inexpensive hammer tied with festive ribbon. I found my hammers at our local hardware store for $2.99 and found cookie sheets for giving at our dollar store for a buck. With a few simple ingredients in your pantry, you have the makings for an easy gift to give and to share around the holiday season.

The only trick with making peanut brittle in the microwave is keeping a CLOSE eye on it so you don’t burn your nuts. I used my Pampered Chef large batter bowl to prepare the brittle in and found that six minutes seemed to be just the right amount to cook it in the first stage. Microwaves and bowl sizes vary so check it after five minutes and see how the brittle is looking. 

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
An easy peanut brittle that you can prepare right in the microwave. Package it with a hammer for a fun guy gift for the holiday season.
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup lite corn syrup
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Grease a baking sheet & set aside.
  2. In a glass bowl, combine peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, and salt.
  3. Cook in microwave for six minutes on high (keep one eye on it to make sure it isn’t bubbling over or burning the nuts). The mixture should be bubbly and the peanuts should be brown.
  4. Stir in butter & vanilla; cook for two to three more minutes.
  5. Quickly stir in baking soda, just until the mixture is foamy.
  6. Pour immediately onto greased cookie sheet.
  7. Let cool for fifteen minutes or until set. Break into pieces.
  8. If packaging for gifts, leave the brittle in tact and package with a hammer for gift-giving.

Looking for other easy & inexpensive gifts to give? Check out my tutorial for Sugar & Spice Nut Mix, Knitted Coffee Cozies, DIY Monogrammed Wine Glasses, Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows, Gingerbread Biscotti, Easy No Bake Cheesecakes in a Jar,  and DIY Mustache Mugs!

Not enough for you?? Here are 36 more holiday gift ideas!

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Sugar & Spice Nut Mix

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Not everyone is a baker and that is why I wanted to share with you an easy sugar & spice nut mix that you can pull together for your holiday giving that is as impressive as any holiday cookie. Making your own flavored nut mixes might not be something you have considered for the holidays, but once you try this delicious nut mix, you will have a hard time giving these sugared and spiced nut mixes away.

My variety of nuts include pecans, almonds, and walnuts. You can choose any combination of nuts that you might love or just keep things simple and roast only your absolute favorite. These nuts are then tossed with an egg white, water, sugar and some of my favorite holiday spices- cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and allspice.

Once you pull them hot out of the oven, I sprinkle liberally with kosher salt to add that sweet and salty combination I love so much in everything from my salted caramel mochas to my dark chocolate & sea salt brownies. The salt really adds to the flavors and helps make these even more addictive.

Package these nut mixes up in a pretty box tied with ribbon. I found these little Wilton boxes at our local grocery store, but I am sure they have something similar at your favorite craft store. I lined the interior of them with a little tissue paper and finished them with satin ribbon.

Sugar & Spice Nut Mix
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
An easy nut mixture to create from spices in your pantry and perfect for your holiday snacking or giving.
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling
  • 2 cups pecans, halves
  • 2 cups whole almonds
  • 2 cups walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the beaten egg white, sugar, and all of your spices (except the salt).
  3. Add the nuts and stir until coated well.
  4. Spread evenly onto a greased cookie sheet or baking pan.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  6. Spread out on parchment paper and sprinkle, while still hot, liberally with coarse salt.
  7. Package for your gift-giving needs.


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Gingerbread Biscotti

Monday, December 10th, 2012

One of my favorite gifts to give is homemade biscotti. This gingerbread biscotti is the perfect gift to give and this easy gingerbread biscotti recipe is a great recipe to try for your holiday giving and cookie trays this year.

Cut-out sugar cookies can be a time-consuming project so I often rely upon big batch items like biscotti (Snickerdoodle or Oreo biscotti, anyone?) or easy food items to prepare in large quantities like Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows or Hot Cocoa or Vanilla Chai mixes that can be made in one batch and assembled easily into smaller gifts.

If you can make cookies, you can make biscotti! Biscotti is basically a twice baked cookie that is perfect for coffee dunking. This Gingerbread Biscotti is filled with all of the flavors you love in gingerbread- molasses, brown sugar, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon and then drizzled with an easy glaze to dress them up a bit.

These can be packaged in festive treat bags with a little ribbon and would make a cute accompaniment to a favorite homemade drink mix, coffee, or the makings of a coffee gift basket with my homemade peppermint syrup or gingerbread syrup for easy homemade lattes.

The most important thing with this biscotti, I have found, it to keep any eye on it because it will go from done to burnt rather quickly! Start checking these after twenty minutes and don’t leave them neglected after that point or you may have some burnt biscotti on your hands! 

However you package it, solo or in a basket, I guarantee that this recipe will be a hit for your holiday giving and baking!

(click on the image to expand)
Gingerbread Biscotti
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 dozen
A sweet and simple gingerbread biscotti recipe that is perfect for your holiday gift-giving!
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1½ tablespoons ground ginger
  • ¾ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ tablespoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • For Glaze: ½ cup confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons milk or light cream
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, eggs, and molasses. In another bowl, combine flours, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg; mix into egg mixture to form a stiff dough (depending on your humidity, the dough may be sticky).
  3. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a roll the length of the cookie.
  4. Place rolls on lined cookie sheet, and pat down to flatten the dough to ½ inch thickness.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. KEEP A VERY CLOSE EYE ON IT as it will go from done to burnt quickly.
  6. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool.
  7. When cool enough to touch, move over to a cutting board and cut into ½ inch thick diagonal slices.
  8. Place sliced biscotti on cookie sheet, and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until toasted and crispy. If the biscotti already looks a little "too" crispy, you can decrease your oven temperature to 275 degrees and bake for 7-10 minutes instead.
  9. Let cool.
  10. In a small bowl mix together the confectioners sugar, vanilla extract and milk until it is incorporated. Using a small spoon, drizzle back and forth your glaze over the biscotti. Allow the icing to harden before packaging.

What fun treats are you baking this holiday season? Any great big batch recipes you might like to share?

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Dressing Up Store-Bought Pies: Spiced Whipped Cream Recipe

Monday, November 19th, 2012

I remember when I thought that making whipped cream was a labor-intensive process. Ah, I have had so much to learn in the kitchen. Whipped cream is simply one of these easiest pie toppings to make and spicing up your whipped cream is an easy way to add a personal touch to a store-bought pie.

This spiced whipped cream recipe will bring an extra layer of spice to your pies that your guests will absolutely love. The best part is that this easy spiced whipped cream topping can be created in under 5 minutes and with a couple of items you probably already have lurking in your pantry.

In a perfect world we would all be making handmade pumpkin pies made with homemade crusts. I thoroughly love baking, but I also know that it isn’t for everyone. For those of my friends who prefer to put their love in other elements of the holiday, I am going to show some easy ways to spice up those store-bought pies that will take those pies to another level.

Before I became acquainted with the kitchen, I really thought whipped cream was just Cool Whip and homemade whipped cream was a powder that you added water to that made whipped cream.

I really did.




Of course, I know a few more things than I did 10 years ago, but it still makes me giggle to know how detached I was from the culinary world. Whipped cream is actually just heavy whipping cream, whipped until it forms peaks and you can add your own spin on sweeteners, spices, and extracts to create your own unique combination of sweet and spicy. It’s perhaps the simplest and most satisfying of pie toppings.

This Spiced Whipped Cream gets its hint of spices from ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and a little sugar. It is the perfect accompaniment to your pumpkin or pecan pies for the holidays.

Tomorrow I will share with you one other fun topping to try on your pies along with some fun ideas for entertaining the kids! 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spiced Whipped Cream
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Spice up your store-bought pies with this easy Spiced Whipped Cream topping!
  • ¾ cup chilled whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  1. Beat whipping cream, sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon ginger in bowl until peaks form. Spoon on top of slices of pie.

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How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

I have discovered a new favorite food and it happens to be healthy for me too! Quinoa is a delicious protein-filled side or main dish that is as just as easy as rice to prepare. Today I want to show you how to make quinoa in your rice cooker. You won’t believe how easy it is to make rice cooker quinoa and the best part is that you can make a weekly batch and enjoy it all week long to add or create other dishes with.

What is Quinoa?

Thanks to a little site called Pinterest, quinoa is quickly becoming one of the hottest foods this year to try to create new recipes with.

Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, contains B Vitamins, and iron.

Though it is smaller than rice, barley, farro and bulgur, quinoa looks like a grain, thanks to its neutral coloring and hard exterior. In reality, it is actually a seed that originates from the cousin of the spinach plant. When cooked, these seeds expand rapidly and significantly, become tender but chewy and expel spirals that boast the slightest crunch.

What Does Quinoa Taste Like?

After cooking quinoa in a  liquid of your choice (water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth),  it becomes light, fluffy,  and nutty. I find the flavor of quinoa to taste a little like couscous and a little like brown rice. It is one of those grains that is difficult to describe, but worth trying simply for the nutritional benefits it offers.

I Don’t Have a Rice Cooker. How Do I Cook Quinoa on the Stovetop?

To cook quinoa on the stove, measure two cups of liquid per cup of quinoa and combine them in a sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a vigorous boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered until the quinoa is tender, but still chewy and white spiral-like threads appear around each grain. This should take approximately fifteen minutes.

What Rice Cooker Do You Recommend?

A year ago I bought this Oster Six Cup Rice Cooker for about $20 and I have been using it two to three times a week ever since.  It provides consistently great brown rice, white rice, steamed vegetables, and quinoa for our family with very little work on my part. It does take up valuable space in my kitchen, but it has earned its rights to the space by saving me a lot of time hovering over pots!

Is Quinoa Good Plain?

I don’t really love quinoa plain, but I think it is a great building block for creating healthy dishes. For example, my favorite dish right now is to simply add the zest from one lemon to the cooking liquid (in the recipe I have shown you below). Then I chop a few handfuls of baby spinach and a pint of cherry tomatoes (halved) and place them in a large serving bowl. Cook the quinoa as directed and then put the hot quinoa on top of the spinach and tomatoes and allow it to wilt the spinach and cook the tomatoes with its heat for about five minutes. Then toss it all with the juice from one lemon and a little drizzle of olive oil. You can serve the salad warm or cold and I have found it to be a hit at every party I have ever taken it.

Other ingredients you can add are sauteed mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, or white beans for a double whammy of protein power. Be creative with what you have leftover in your fridge, and put together your own flavorful combination.

5.0 from 1 reviews
How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Quinoa in the rice cooker is easy as 1,2,3. This is a simple and fool-proof way to make delicious quinoa that you can enjoy all week long in your recipes or as a protein-packed side dish.
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups liquid (low-sodium chicken broth, low-sodium vegetable broth, or water)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Using a fine mesh sieve rinse 1 cup of organic quinoa in cold water (Note: the brand pictured here does not require a rinse, but I wanted to show you how to do it if it does. Read the back of the box/bag to find out if rinsing is necessary).
  2. Pour rinsed quinoa into your rice cooker.
  3. Add your liquid and salt.
  4. Turn on your rice cooker. When the rice cooker beeps, you will have perfectly cooked quinoa (approximately fifteen minutes)
  5. Unplug the cooker. Allow quinoa to set for three to five minutes and then fluff with a fork.

Have you cooked with quinoa before? What is your favorite way to serve this food? Any tips or tricks for cooking it? I’m all ears!

Disclosure: The link to the rice cooker is an affiliate link and is provided so you can locate what you need quickly and easily.



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Butternut Squash Soup With Toasted Pecans

Monday, October 8th, 2012

I love when I find a new ingredient to adore in the kitchen. I have started a mad love affair with butternut squash and I can’t wait to share with you a delicious dairy-free butternut squash soup that tastes creamy and sinful while actually be healthy for you. It is a butternut squash soup that will convert any squash hater into a lover of this fabulous and frugal ingredient.

It can be very easy to make a flavorless butternut squash soup. Without the right balance of spices and ingredients, it can taste a bit like indulging in a jar of baby food. What sets this soup apart from other recipes is the heat from a little curry, the warmth of nutmeg, a creamy addition of one potato, the depth of flavor from a leek, the lightness of the chicken broth, and the unexpected crunchy topping of toasted pecans on top. This unexpected list of ingredients truly yield a complex soup that offers layers of flavors that will have your guests wondering just what exactly is in the soup that can create such depth.

One investment that I have made into my kitchen is an inexpensive handheld immersion blender. Transferring soup to my blender usually ends in catastrophe and the immersion blender has paid for its space in my kitchen over and over again while preparing my favorite fall drinks and soups in my kitchen. I can’t recommend this little gadget enough- it is a game changer for soup preparation!

What makes this soup less labor intensive than other butternut squash soup recipes is the simple preparation of preparing the butternut squash with the skin on (be sure to check out my tutorial) and roasting the potato alongside the squash for your soup. Minimal blending and cooking will have to be done once these have been roasted and it makes the soup come together more quickly for an easy weeknight meal.

I have never become more quickly addicted to soup than I have to this one. I guarantee that this is the perfect soup to add to your soup rotations in the Fall and provides just the right warmth in your belly on these chilly Fall nights.

Butternut Squash Soup With Toasted Pecans
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
An easy weeknight butternut squash soup that has the perfect balance of spice and creaminess without the extra calories!
  • 1 large leek
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 potato, cooked and cubed
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, to taste
  • ⅛ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 small pinch of curry powder
  • ⅓ cup toasted pecans, chopped
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the skin of the squash and the potato with a fork a few times. Place them on a cookie sheet and roast them for one hour. Pull them from the oven and set them aside to cool.
  2. Halve the leek lengthwise, rinse thoroughly and chop the white and light green parts only. Discard the tough dark green parts. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek and sauté until they start to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add chopped garlic to the pot and sauté for one more minute.
  4. Grab your potato and squash from the cookie sheet.
  5. Peel the skin from the potato and dice. Set aside. Next, cut your squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Using a spoon, gently spoon out your squash for your soup. The squash should easily pull away from the skin.
  6. Add your squash, potato, broth, and seasonings to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Let soup cool slightly. In a food processor or with a handheld immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth or to your own desired texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Toast pecans at 350 degrees on a baking sheet for five minutes. Watch carefully to not burn them.
  8. Scoop soup into soup bowls and top with a sprinkling of toasted pecans.



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How to Cook a Butternut Squash With the Skin On

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Preparing a butternut squash for a soup can be time consuming and back breaking work, especially if there is a lot of dicing and chopping involved. Today I want to show an easy way to cook butternut squash with the skin on for your soups that requires minimal effort, a single slice, and yields delicious and soft squash that can be instantly pureed for your soups. Cooking a butternut squash with the skin on can be done either in the oven or in the microwave with ease. Today’s tutorial showcases my easy way of preparation.

If you have not cooked with a butternut squash before, you are in for a real treat. Butternut squash is a winter squash and is also known as a butternut pumpkin in other regions of the world.  It has  the same  sweet and nutty taste that is similar to my favorite Fall ingredient and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

The best part about butternut squashes, in my opinion, is that they are relatively inexpensive and can keep for months in a cool dark place, making it a great frugal ingredient to rely upon when times are more lean or the pantry is bare. Stock up on this ingredient when it goes on sale and roast it for easy side dishes, create delicious soups with it, or add it into your favorite Fall casseroles.  The possibilities with this ingredient are truly endless!

5.0 from 1 reviews
How to Cook a Butternut Squash With the Skin On
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
This is the easiest way to prepare a squash with minimal work
  • Butternut Squash- Cook as many as you like at the same time and freeze the vegetable for cooking all season long.
  1. Preheat your oven at 400 degrees.
  2. Prick your butternut squash with a fork.
  3. Cook your squash for one hour. Allow it to cool.
  4. Slice the squash in half lengthwise.
  5. Scoop out the seeds and discard.
  6. Scoop the flesh out of the squash. It should be soft and pull away easily away from the skin.
  7. Alternate Microwave Instructions: Wash the squash in cool running water and pat dry. Use a knife to pierce several holes in the squash. Place the butternut squash in a large microwavable shallow dish, and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove the dish from the microwave. Use a large knife to cut the squash in half. Spoon out the seeds and discard. Place the squash, cut side down, back in the dish and microwave for 5 more minutes. The squash's flesh should feel tender. Leave it in the microwave to stand for another 5 minutes. Use the squash in your favorite recipes.

Be sure to visit my Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Pecans recipe for a delicious Fall soup addition that the whole family will love!


What are your favorite ways to prepare butternut squash? Do you have a recipe to share with this ingredient? Feel free to link it up below!

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Fall Into Fall FOODS With MomAdvice

Monday, September 17th, 2012

The Best of Fall Recipes from

As I begin creating new recipes for the site, I wanted to showcase a few of my favorite dishes that have been on our site in years past for the fall. Fall just so happens to be my favorite season and coincidentally, Fall foods and drinks happen to be my favorite type of sips & dishes.

Here is a list of a few of my favorite Fall foods that I can’t wait to eat this year!

Weeknight Roast Turkey Sandwiches

Few things say fall is here to me like the delicious flavor of roast turkey. While many think of roasting a turkey as only a routine done on Thanksgiving, I think of roasting a turkey as an easy weeknight dish that can be turned into delicious packed sandwiches for my kid’s lunchboxes and a lifesaver for busy weeknights when I don’t feel like cooking. You will love this easy (and frugal) technique for a great weeknight turkey sandwich!

Hearty Beef Stew

Nothing says the Fall like a great beef stew. This stew is so rich and decadent,  because of the use of bacon in this stew. The bacon fat is what all of the vegetables get coated in for cooking and then the cooked bacon is set aside for crumbling on top of the stew once it comes out of the oven.  I filled the broth with red wine and beef broth, to create a rich and flavorful broth that will have your whole family begging for more!

Soup, Soup, & More Soup

For a family that never liked soup, we have become the family with a soup night in our weekly rotation. Visit the link above to access my absolute favorite soups- an easy weeknight chicken noodle, Greek Lemon Chicken Soup, our Pesto Chicken Tortellini, and so much more! If that isn’t enough soup for you this year, you must try my homemade tomato soup. It will change any negative feelings you might have about tomato soup- I promise!

Apple Pie Muffins

My family does not like apple pie (weird, I know!), but they do really love my apple pie muffins that incorporate those delicious flavors of the apple pie with a simple crumb topping. If you happen to have an abundance of apples on hand, I highly recommend giving these apple muffins a try

The batter is sweet, but not too sweet, and the apples have a warmness to them thanks to the cooked apple and the cinnamon that is worked into the crumb topping and within the muffin itself.  Serve these up with a big glass of milk and you have the makings of a perfect snack!

Apple Pork Chops

These pork chops are a satisfyingly sweet and savory dish that pairs ingredients that I typically have around our house. The brown sugar and cinnamon sauce adds a delicious glaze to this perfectly cooked pork.  Baking the pork helps it to achieve the perfect temperature and I believe you will be stunned at what a tender and juicy pork chop this recipe yields!

Baked Apple Pie Donuts

I love baking donuts and these Baked Apple Pie Donuts are the perfect treat to make for your family! The dominate flavor in this one is definitely the apple followed by the earthy and nutty flavor of ground nutmeg that helps round out the flavor profile of these donuts.  Once these delicate donuts are done baking, they are brushed lightly with butter and then dipped into a cinnamon and sugar coating that helps bring all of those delicious fall flavors together and that little bit of gritty, yummy crunch that just so happens to be my favorite thing about donuts.

Cheddar Apple Pie Dip

One of my favorite combinations for fall eating is cheddar and apples. If you haven’t tried this before, it is the perfect balance of sweet and savory and they all come together in this easy & delicious dip.  Diced on top  is a mixture of red and green apples that have been tossed with brown sugar, cinnamon, and coarsely chopped walnuts. The layer underneath offers a surprise of cheddar cheese mixed with cream cheese and sour cream, cooked until hot and bubbly. Serve with your favorite cinnamon chip or cracker.


The Best of Fall Recipes from

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Syrup Frosting

I wanted to figure out a way to use the leftover cans of pumpkin we had from our Thanksgiving feasting last year, and I decided to create my very own Baked Pumpkin Donuts with a Maple Syrup Frosting that would be the perfect use for the pumpkin leftover. What started as a way to use up leftover pumpkin is now worked into our fall activities and this year my kids will be enjoying these with big mugs of  homemade hot cocoa on our little front step outside when we do our raking this year.

These are flavorful and almost like a glass of wine, you can taste all the different flavors as you eat them. You can taste the hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, the rich pumpkin flavor, and then that maple syrup sweetness from the light glaze drizzle. The texture is different than a fried donut and more like a muffin or a good piece of cake. They are not overly sweet though and the pumpkin really seems to add a savory quality to these.

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

I can’t tell you how many of my friends have made my pumpkin pasta a part of their fall routines. It is one of those dishes that surprises me about just how much it is loved!

Have you ever tried pumpkin pasta?  Over the years this dish has become the most favorite dish for fall and one bite of this will tell you why! The kids think it looks like macaroni and cheese so it does not take much coaxing to get them to try a bite. My husband loves the turkey sausage and the meaty flavor of this dish. Me? I just love the creamy pumpkin taste in my mouth!

If you are worried about how your family will react to pumpkin pasta, scale the pumpkin back. You can do between 2/3-2 cups of pasta, depending on your personal taste. Start with a little and ease your family into the two cup ratio.

The pumpkin recipes go on for days and days on our site! Be sure to visit my article on 11 Recipes to Try this Fall with Pumpkin!

What is your favorite Fall recipe you have tried from our site? Have any of these recipes become a yearly tradition for your families? I would love to hear from you!


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Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Homemade Enchilada SauceOne of our family’s favorite weeknight meals is a big batch of our favorite weeknight chicken enchiladas. The first recipe I ever tried instructed me how to make my own homemade enchilada sauce to go along with our yummy enchiladas. I had never made enchiladas before so I assumed that a homemade enchilada sauce was the only way to make this recipe. Once I made and realized how easy it was to make my own sauce though, I never once considered buying my enchilada sauce.

Making your own sauces and mixes is a fantastic way to save money and you also have the opportunity to control the quality of ingredients that go into your dishes. With a sauce like an enchilada sauce, for example, you also can control the spiciness of the dish to your own preference.

Once you make this simple and fast enchilada sauce, I guarantee you will never buy the pre-packaged sauces again. The best part about this recipe though is that it is made from items you already have in your pantry and spices that are likely already lurking in your cupboard.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

We serve this yummy sauce on top of my favorite chicken enchiladas. These enchiladas never last long in our house and are awesome reheated in the oven (I reheat mine at 400 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes on a baking stone) for an easy lunch. When reheated in the oven, they taste just like the day you made them and are delicious served with a little fresh fruit for a yummy side.

I hope you can give these recipes a try in your house! I just know you will love them as much as we do!

4.0 from 5 reviews
Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Once you make your own enchilada sauce, you will never go back to buying it on the shelf. This recipe is both easy in preparation and frugal on your wallet.
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder (we adjusted to 1 teaspoon)
  • 3 garlic cloves,minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • Pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Add the onion and salt and cook until softened, about five minutes.
  3. Stir in the chili powder, garlic, cumin, and sugar. Cook until fragrant, about fifteen seconds.
  4. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about five minutes.
  5. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Be sure to visit my Make Your Own Mixes & Convenience Foods article on other easy and effortless recipes you can create in your own kitchen and save your family hundreds of dollars on your grocery bill!

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