Butternut squash is a great fall and winter staple. There are so many things you can do with it, such as making a flavorful soup or just roasting it with your favorite spices. It is fairly low in calories and fat, full of potassium (great for blood pressure), vitamin a (good for vision) and fiber (can help get those sluggish bowels moving). Also, it does not spoil as quickly as some other veggies, so you don’t have to worry as much about it going bad before you have a chance to use it. The only thing that bothers me about butternut squash is cutting it up….I am not best with knives. However, I have found that poking some holes in it and putting it in the microwave a few minutes does help soften it up so it is easier to cut. You can then continue to cook however way you like after you have the squash slightly softened and cut up.
I love little mini breads topped with deliciousness, so a few weeks ago I decided to make an appetizer that was a seasonal take on bruschetta. Instead of a tomato basil topping, I decided to make a kale and butternut squash topping. And I also added some goat cheese because cheese is delicious and of course adds a little calcium that most of us don’t get enough of. For my recipe I used Udi’s gluten free french baguettes but if you don’t need to make it gluten free you can always just use any other baguette type bread…preferably one that contains some whole grains.
Butternut Squash Crostini
3 Udis Gluten Free French baguettes (freezer section)
1 T Olive Oil + extra for brushing on bread
1 Butternut squash peeled and diced ~6 cups
4 Cups Chopped Fresh Kale
1 Teaspoon Ground Sage
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
6 oz Goat Cheese
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice baguettes into 1/2 inch slices after bringing frozen baguettes to room temperature. Brush 1 side of each piece with olive oil, using a pastry or silicone brush. Put slices oil side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cook for about 5 min on top rack of oven or until bread appears lightly toasted around edges. You may have to make in batches. Remove from oven and turn oven down to 400 degrees.
Add butternut squash and kale to a large glass baking dish. Mix in apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper and sage. The kale may look like an excessive amount but it will bake down. Stir until evenly coated. Bake in oven for 35 minutes in lower rack or until butternut squash is cooked through (if you bake on top rack, kale may burn a little). Top olive oil side of bread pieces with a thin layer of goat cheese and butternut squash mixture just prior to serving.
December is here and I know many of you will be going to holiday parties so I thought this would be a perfect time to post an easy recipe that you could bring to a party or have at your own party if you are hosting. When going to a cocktail party or bringing a dish to someone’s home, I like to try and keep things as simple as possible. By that, I mean if I am hosting, I don’t like making a huge mess in the kitchen before people come over. Alternatively, when I am bringing a dish to someone’s home, I don’t want to have to worry about serving it with forks, plates etc. Cookies work out well for this and I know a lot of people like to bring and make cookies around the holidays, so if that is your preference check out my Whole Grain Buckwheat (or Oatmeal) Cookies. If you are interested in a different type of bite sized dessert, read on to hear about my Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes….
So I found this recipe for mini cheesecakes made in cupcake tins here awhile ago and thought it was a great idea (already in perfect portion sizes and no serving, plate or fork necessary!). However, my husband is not really a cheesecake fan so I was waiting for the perfect opportunity to make and bring them somewhere. A few weeks ago we went to a “Friendsgiving” and I jumped at the chance to make them with a few slight adjustments to make them more thanksgiving themed. So basically instead of vanilla wafers for the crust, I used gluten free gingersnaps, removed the cottage cheese and added pumpkin puree, and added a few pumpkin pie spices to the batter. Adding the pumpkin puree made the batter a little more liquidy, so I did have to cook it for a little longer, but the texture still turned out good and cheesecakey. Also, have I mentioned before that pumpkin has lots of nutrients? It is rich in Vitamin A, fiber, and potassium, just to name a few, so adding pumpkin give both a nutrition boost and a delicious fall flavor.
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
30 Cupcake/Muffin Liners
30 Gingersnap Cookies (Use Gluten Free Gingersnap Cookies if making GF)
16 Ounces of Neufchatel Cheese or Cream Cheese
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
4 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Pecans or Whipped Cream for topping (Optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and place rack in center of the oven. Place cupcake/muffin liners into cupcake tin and add 1 gingersnap cookie to each liner. Mix all remaining ingredients together with a mixer until smooth. Add 2 teaspoons batter to each liner and bake in oven for ~20 minutes or until cheesecakes are firm in the center. Allow to cool and refrigerate until ready to serve. If desired, you can top with whipped cream immediately before serving or make a crunchy pecan topping. To make a pecan topping you can simply sauté a 1/2 cup chopped pecans with 2 teaspoons maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon over medium heat for approximately 2 minutes or until topping is warm and fragrant. Sprinkle a few pieces on the top of each mini cheesecake.
Last weekend we decided to have a few of our friends over for appetizers and drinks to celebrate fall flavors and as a last little get together before the baby arrives…. Because who knows when we will be able to have people over again. The menu I had planned included Skinny Pumpkin Dip with apples, Baked Brie with Pecans and Pears, a few other cheeses and grapes with gluten free crackers, butternut squash crostini (recipe coming soon) and sparkling cranberry apple cider.
I wanted to make a nonalcoholic drink that I could enjoy but of course also have the option of adding alcohol for everyone else…. So I decided to make an apple cider as a sort of “mixer” so everyone could add whatever alcohol they preferred to it. I also wanted to infuse a lot of fall flavors such as cinnamon and cranberries so I decided to cook some fruit with spices first then add it to the apple cider so the flavors could meld overnight. I didn’t want a warm apple cider because I live in south florida and it is not quite cool enough for that yet, but you can easily adapt the recipe to make it warm if that is what you prefer. Anyways, I topped my apple cider with soda water as I love a sparkling mocktail, and for the most part everyone else added a little bit of vodka and sparkling wine to their glasses, and seemed to enjoy it that way.
Sparkling Cranberry Apple Cider
1-12 oz Bag Fresh Cranberries (about 3 cups)
1 Navel Orange – zested and cut into bite sized pieces
1 Pear- cored and cut into bite sized pieces
1 Apple – cored and cut into bite sized pieces
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Teaspoon All Spice
1 Gallon Apple Cider
Add cranberries, zest from orange, pieces of orange, Apple and pear along with cinnamon sticks, honey, all spice, and water to a medium saucepan. Mix together and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for about 10 min or until cranberries break open and flavors meld. Turn off stove top and allow to cool. Once cool, add to apple cider in a punch bowl or large pitcher and put in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, fill glass halfway with cider and then top with soda water or sparkling wine. If you like your drinks strong, add a little vodka or liquor of preference. Cheers!
Hi, my name is Caryn, and I am a registered dietitian nutritionist in Miami, Florida. I was born and raised in Ohio and have 2 girls under the age of 5. I am a busy working mom who used to have an hour long commute to work, so I know how hard keeping up with healthy habits can be. I am a lazy cook, so I hate overly complicated recipes and doing dishes. Just toss everything in one pot....right?