Butternut Squash Whole-Wheat Mac & Cheese

Today I’m in three places at once. Besides talking turkey around here, I’m also having a little Q & A time with the lovely Kelsey, a.k.a, The Naptime Chef in her famous ‘Tales from the Trenches’ series.

Head here to catch the full interview.

I’m also sharing a recipe for Butternut Squash Whole-Wheat Mac & Cheese over at The Family Kitchen on Babble. It’s one of our favorite meatless main dishes, and seasonal, too!

This recipe is surprisingly healthy for mac & cheese, as it incorporates nearly an entire squash and uses whole-wheat egg-white pasta for a substantial and low-cholesterol meal. I love this dish because it feels like a hearty main dish even though it is meatless.

Hit the jump for the recipe and be sure to check out my interview on The Family Kitchen, which includes tips for cooking this dish ahead of time, and including children in the whole process.

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The Best Way to Roast a Turkey (the simple way)

Whether you’re planning on roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Day, you can always use a few helpful tips to make it the best it can be. Since roasting a gargantuan bird is not on the usual M-F menu plan, it can cause even the most experienced cook to hesitate before proceeding. Fortunately, I think I can help you relax and boost your confidence in preparing your event’s main attraction.

My Crash-Course on Turkey

You may be wondering what a relatively young lady such as myself could have to add to everything that has already been said about turkey, and you would be right to wonder. After all, how many Thanksgivings have I been cooking? Not nearly as many as some experts out there…right?

But here’s the thing: I’ve been to Turkey Boot Camp.

When I was nineteen, I had the privilege (?) misfortune (?)  – honestly, it was a mix of both –  of working a summer at a remote fly-in fishing resort on the Pacific Ocean. Another fellow and I were the chefs for the camp, cranking out three square meals for over forty people, seven days a week, eleven weeks straight. Every three days, a couple of float planes would fly in carrying a new group of clients – and a frozen turkey. Along with the requisite pancake breakfast, shrimp bisque lunch, and other culinary highlights, we were obliged to prepare a well-rounded turkey dinner for each group of guests.

Two groups per week, eleven weeks of work. Yes, that’s right, in the span of one summer, we cooked twenty-two turkeys!

If that doesn’t make me qualified to talk turkey, then I don’t know what does!

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Holiday 2010 Gift Guide: My Top Ten ‘Big Ticket’ Kitchen Items

My younger sister is an animal expert, my elder sister a sommelier; when I need advice on my cat’s diet or a particularly tricky wine pairing, I call one of them and get the straight scoop (or pour) before I make a purchase. Adding their input and expertise to my decision has saved me a considerable amount of money and has helped me avoid headaches (and I mean that quite literally.)

The questions that come my way are all kitchen related. Don’t ask me for fashion advice, home decorating direction or – oh. my. NEVER! – computer counsel, but DO bring me your queries on kitchen tools.

I’ve rummaged through the tool kit of many a professional chef. I’ve taken detailed inventory of a restaurant kitchen’s supplies. I’d rather shop for spatulas than shoes and I’ve probably cooked every day for the last twenty years. I’ve seen what lasts (my mother’s Le Creuset she received as a wedding present 35 years ago), I’ve seen what breaks (cheap blenders, espresso makers) and I’m ready to share my recommendations.

Whether you are writing your own holiday wish list, or are looking for the perfect gift for the cook in the family, let this list of items inspired from my personal kitchen be your guide.
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Cake Love and Vegetable Ardor.


I’ve been holding out on you. There has been cake and I haven’t shared. This post will remedy that selfishness, however, so get your pencils out and print up my holiday baking pantry check-list. You’re going to want to shop for ingredients after this post.

The three cakes I’m about to elaborate on have something in common besides, well, flour, sugar and all those cake-y ingredients. Can you guess?

They all originated at the vegetables stand of my local market. Yep, without intending to do so, and just by following my own cravings over the last few weeks, I’ve baked cakes with carrots, pumpkin and beets.

That’s a good thing, right?

Now, onto the recipes, for they are keepers.


Here we have a – hang onto your hats – Pumpkin Guinness Gingerbread Bundt Cake.
Who is the one person to come up with this craziness? Yea, the one-and-only Julie Van Rosendaal. She posted this last Saturday on Babble’s Family Kitchen blog and unbeknown to her, made my to-do list a little bit longer for that day.

I was throwing a harvest dinner party the next day, and what is a girl to do when faced with a recipe such as this? Add it to the menu, send the hubby out for stout (didn’t have to ask twice), and rummage around for a bundt pan. It obviously had to be made.

The flavors in this cake kind of blow your mind; you must check out the list of ingredients. I started chuckling to myself as I read through them (golden rule of baking: read the recipe through first) and by the time I finished was laughing my head off: Pumpkin. Guinness. Molasses. Brown Sugar. Fresh Ginger. Ground Ginger. Vanilla. Cocoa. Cinnamon….all that was missing was some espresso powder!

Needless to say, Julie sure knows how to throw a party in a bundt pan, plus it made the place smell mad.

Head here to get the recipe.


Not to be outdone by the bundt, may I present the regal, three-layer Browned Butter Carrot Cake.

I’ve had this one bookmarked from Elizabeth’s blog, Guilty Kitchen for ages, just waiting for the perfect occasion. When my brother-in-law, who is also my little sister’s boy-friend (don’t worry, it’s all legal) hinted that carrot cake would be a good direction to go for his birthday cake, I knew I had my recipe.

Its was actually both of their birthdays, my sister, and Danny’s brother. Again, yes, all legal, good stuff. They’re dating AND share the same birthday. If you think about it, it’s actually easier for me: one cake. See what I mean?

I don’t have a close-up of the interior of the cake, because, well, I’ve pretty much given up on playing hostess and event photographer. It’s just no fun. Especially by the time dessert rolls around. I’m usually ready to throw the kids in bed, demand a double-shot latte from the barista (Danny), pull up a chair and serve cake.

That said, Liz’s ultra-moist, super-classy carrot cake leaves little to be desired. Unless you like your carrot cake full of stuff such as pineapple, raisins, coconut, nuts or other extra. I don’t. It was perfect.

Head here to get the recipe.


These little Chocolate Beet Cupcakes are hot off the press over at Simple Bites. They’re my attempt at a Halloween confection, but are more like a pretty fall dessert.

Beet Cupcakes! I’m super proud of these healthier sweet treats and my boys loved them. There’s no white sugar and very little fat, but the cupcakes are sweet and moist thanks to nearly a cup of fresh beet puree. The secret is definitely in the sauce.

Head here to get the recipe.

I just realized these three cakes have something else in common. Cream Cheese Frosting.

Oh well. Deal with it.

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Lately I’ve been on a dessert kick where the main ingredient is a vegetable. First there was that Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chunks, followed by the Pumpkin Cheesecake. I also baked a splendid carrot cake for my sister’s birthday and now – Chocolate Beet Cupcakes.

I’ve been skipping the baking aisle at the grocery store and taking my inspiration for desserts straight from the vegetable stand at my local market.

And why not? It’s harvest time and the season’s bounty can be used for more than roasted vegetables side dishes – although we love those too. Don’t you feel just a wee bit better about downing a serving of what is usually an indulgent dessert when you know it is actually crammed with nutritional value?
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