Whole Roasted Butternut Squash

Have you ever struggled to cut open a rock-hard butternut squash? It seems like every recipe calls for splitting the thing in half (somehow avoiding chopping off a finger in the process), scooping out the seeds and then roasting the halves in the oven. But there’s a much better way!

When you roast the squash whole, the skin becomes papery, the seeds and stringy bits can be scraped out with a spoon, and the flesh slices like butter. Couldn’t be easier!

After roasting you can cube it up, toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and throw it under the broiler until nice and golden brown. Or you can puree it for soup. Or you can slice it and turn it into a pizza topping (which is where this squash is headed).

The whole-roasted method is not my invention, but I don’t understand why it’s not more common. It works for pretty much any type of squash, too.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pierce the squash with a knife several times, as you would a baked potato. Place on an oven-safe dish or baking sheet (rack is optional). Roast until the squash is tender, about 1 hour.

Let rest until the squash is cool enough to handle. Cut off the stem and base, peel off the skin, scoop out the seeds and prep as desired.

Pictured: Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-10-B Square Skillet

7 Layer Chicken Chili and Cornbread Dip

A few years ago I came across a Food Network recipe for an eight-layer chicken chili dip and whipped it up for a Super Bowl party. It was fantastic, but so much work! It required a ton of chopping and prepping, and that got me thinking of ways to cut corners without sacrificing taste. For example, instead of dicing tomatoes, why not use pico de gallo salsa?

So for this year’s Super Bowl I’ve made the dip again, but with my own tweaks. I’ve swapped out ingredients for things that are easier to chop or don’t require chopping at all. And I’ve scaled up the recipe a bit to fit in a basic salad/mixing bowl. I’m pretty happy with the result! It’s still a little time consuming, but definitely easier than the original, and pretty tasty.

The dip is best served with a big spoon, so that you can scoop all the way through the layers, transfer to a plate and eat with tortilla chips.

Serves 16

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp chili powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (roughly 1 whole chicken)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 bunch chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems (about 1 1/2 cups)
zest of 2 limes plus about 1/4 cup juice
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 bunch green onion, chopped
2 heaping cups crumbled cornbread (about half a batch of cornbread from the Jiffy boxed mix)
1 16 oz container pico de gallo salsa, drained
1 14-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute the onions in the vegetable oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, salt and cayenne, then add the chicken broth and simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the shredded chicken and stir until well mixed. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, cilantro, and lime zest and juice. In a separate bowl, stir together the corn and green onions.

In a straight-sided salad or mixing bowl, layer the dip in the following order: cornbread (tamped down gently), pico de gallo (use a slotted spoon so that you leave behind as much liquid as possible), black beans, cheese, cilantro-lime sour cream, chicken chili, corn and green onion mixture.

Chill, covered, for at least 1 hour or overnight. Serve with tortilla chips.

Pictured: Fire King Sunbeam Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware Spice O’ Life P-322 Square Cake Dish, Pyrex Spring Blossom 442 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex 532 Measuring Cup, Assorted Pyrex Round and Cinderella Mixing Bowls

Potato and Chard Gratin

Last week we got some beautiful rainbow chard in our Imperfect Produce box — bright, colorful stems and luscious dark green leaves. It was almost a shame to bury it in potatoes and cream, but oh so delicious!

A mandoline slicer is particularly handy for this recipe, but you can slice the potatoes by hand too — the thinner the better. Cook time can vary depending on the thickness of your potato slices, so be prepared to leave the gratin in the oven a little longer if needed.

Adapted from Food Network’s Potatoes Gratin.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch Swiss chard (5-7 leaves), stems sliced thin and leaves cut into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, unpeeled, sliced thin (about 1/8 inch)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chard and saute until thoroughly wilted and most of the liquid has cooked out.

In a large bowl, toss the chard mixture with potatoes, cream and 1 cup of the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Layer the potatoes and chard mixture in a medium casserole dish, and pour over any remaining cream from the bowl. Top with the remaining Parmesan.

Bake until the potatoes are tender and the gratin is bubbly and golden brown, about 1 hour.

Pictured: Corning Ware French White F-2-B Oval Casserole, Pyrex Autumn Harvest 404 Round Mixing Bowl

Sunny-Side-Up Egg in the Microwave

I recently added another Corning Ware microwave browning skillet to my collection — a 6-inch MW-83-B scored at Savers — so I decided it was time to try it out. The MW-83-B is similar to the P-83-B in Corning Ware’s Menuette line, making it the perfect size for a fried egg.

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With this little footed skillet, it’s possible to cook a pretty good sunny-side-up egg — lightly browned edges, runny yolk — in about a minute.

Ingredients

cooking spray
1 egg, cracked into a bowl
salt
pepper

Place the empty skillet in the microwave and cook on high for 30 seconds to preheat. Spray the skillet liberally with oil, then pour in the egg and microwave for another 40 seconds. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Note: Cooking times are for a 1100-watt microwave. You may need to experiment a bit to achieve your desired level of doneness. The Corning Ware 411 blog has some more detailed information on cooking with microwave browning skillets, including a vintage chart of cooking times for various foods.

Pictured: Corning Ware Amana MW-83-B Microwave Browning Skillet

Hearty Kielbasa and Brussels Sprout Soup

Our family loves brussels sprouts. We eat them at almost every holiday meal, and at plenty of regular meals too. I’m thinking my daughter is the only kid in her class who is happy to see brussels sprouts in her lunch bag at school.

This year we happened to have them for dinner on both Christmas Eve (sauteed) and Christmas Day (roasted). And then a few days later, we accidentally ordered 2 lbs more in our Imperfect Produce delivery. So naturally I was looking for a different way to prepare a whole lot of brussels sprouts, and settled on soup.

Kielbasa is commonly paired with cabbage in soups, so why not use brussels sprouts instead? They bring a lot of flavor and texture to the dish, complemented by the subtle smokiness of the kielbasa and smoked paprika. Add some garlic bread and you’ve got the perfect antidote to chilly winter evenings.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb kielbasa, sliced into thin rounds
4 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 small onions (or 1 large), chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp smoked paprika
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 lbs brussels sprouts, sliced thin
salt
pepper

In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute the kielbasa in olive oil until lightly browned. Remove the kielbasa and set aside, leaving the drippings in the pot.

Add the carrots, celery and onion to the pot and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute more. Add bay leaves, smoked paprika, chicken broth and potatoes.

Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the reserved kielbasa. Simmer for another minute or so until the kielbasa is hot, then serve.

Pictured: Corning Ware Country Festival P-43-B Petite Pan, Corning Ware Fruit Basket P-43-B Petite Pan 

Christmas Dinner 2017

Keeping up my new tradition of documenting my holiday cookware

I’m not hosting Christmas dinner this year, but I still get to contribute to the cooking for a big family meal. I happen to have a lot of these Corning Ware mini casseroles, so I’m planning to put them to use for some individual gratin potatoes.

After seeing these casseroles repeatedly at thrift stores, I started collecting them to use as everyday dishes (when I got to 12 I cut myself off). They’re a great size for snacks, salads and recipe prep, and I’ve been dying to find some time to use them for baking. So tomorrow, gratin potatoes, and next maybe some creme brulee or chocolate pudding!

Pictured: Corning Ware French White F-15-B Oval Casserole (x12)

Favorite Ginger Cookies

There’s something about the flavors of molasses and warming spices that reminds me of holidays spent baking, indulging and making merry. This recipe, which comes from a childhood friend, combines ginger, cinnamon, cloves and molasses in a slightly chewy, slightly crunchy package that is high on my list of favorite cookies. While you can mix the dough by hand, it’s much easier — and faster — if you have a stand mixer.

Makes about two dozen

Ingredients

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a hand or stand mixer, cream the shortening and sugar until fluffy and smooth. Add molasses and egg, beat well.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients, then add to the sugar mixture, beating in a little at a time until well combined.

Roll the dough into balls (about 1 1/2 inches diameter), then dip in sugar to coat. Place the balls 2 inches apart on a baking sheet that’s been greased or lined with parchment paper. Bake until lightly browned, about 12-15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack.

Pictured: Pyrex Flamingo 909 Pie Plate, Pyrex Butterfly Gold 403 Round Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware Grab-It Bowl, Corning Ware Snack-It Plate