Caramelized Butternut Squash

butternut

Winter squashes are not only great decorations before cooking, but also delicious,nutritious, and add beautiful color to our fall table.  My favorite is Butternut Squash.  Roasting and caramelizing adds an amazing layer of flavor.  Try using any leftovers in soup or salad!

Caramelized Butternut Squash

2 medium butternut squash (6-8 cups cubed) (I have used Costco’s precut squash for super quick and easy preparation)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Note:  cinnamon or cayenne may be added for varying flavor

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off and discard the ends of  butternut squash. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, cut in half lengthwise, and remove seeds with a spoon. Cut into  1-inch cubes and pour onto baking sheet lined with foil (for easier cleanup). Add melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Toss and spread in a single layer. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize on edges. Turn the squash a few times with a spatula.  Remove to serving dish.

 

Lime Marinade and Herb Salad for Steak

herbs

This lime marinade has become my new favorite. Couple with the fresh herb salad topping and hit a homerun  with those at your table!.  The fresh brightness of herbs and tangy lime juice adds layers of flavor to grilled meats, fish or chicken. I use Mexican Mint Marigold in my herb mix because tarragon does not grow well here, but if you have tarragon, use that. We will have this again tonight with sides of baked potato and crispy lettuces, also from our garden. This is my version of Danny Boome’s, used when grilling flank steak on his Food Network show Rescue Chef.

lettuce

Lime Marinade

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 orange, juiced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Add the steak and refrigerate for 30 -45 minutes, turning occasionally.  Remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature before grilling or pan-searing steak.

Herb Salad

1 small bunch Italian parsley
1  small bunch sweet basil
1 small bunch cilantro
1 small bunch Mexican Mint Marigold  (or use fresh Tarragon if you have it.)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 limes, juiced
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the herbs and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Remove the leaves from stems and chop slightly. Whisk together olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Add  to chopped herbs a few spoonsful at a time until mixture is lightly coated with dressing.  You may not need all the dressing, but serve any remaining to pass with a small spoon at the table.

 

Fall Garden Dill Pickles

picklesbowl3_0

Fall means a number of eagerly anticipated things in our part of Texas.  One of them is a second growing season.  In our fall garden, Kristen and Nora are harvesting cucumbers! So we made dill pickles this week, a small batch which can be stored in the refrigerator.

pickles

Fall Garden Dill Pickles

Prepare the jars and lids you wish to use.  The number will depend on the size and quantity of available cucumbers.  Prepare more than you estimate needed.

12-15  pickling cucumbers, washed and patted dry

6 cups water

3 cups vinegar

2 Tablespoons pickling salt

2 teaspoons sugar

12 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

whole  peppercorns

large bunch of dill

yellow mustard seed

Set jars out on a tea towel.  Into the bottom of each jar, place a garlic clove, one dill frond, several peppercorns, 1 teaspoon mustard seed.

Set aside any cucumbers you want to leave whole. Slice remaining cucumbers into 1/2 inch slices or spears. To make brine, combine water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in pan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat. Add cucumbers to jars to within 1/2 inch of top of jar . Do not pack them too tightly as you need room for the brine. Scatter more fresh dill,  garlic, mustard seed, and peppercorns on top of the cucumbers. Finish by pouring into each jar enough brine to cover the cucumbers. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least one week before eating. Pickles should be good for at least 6 weeks after that. These small batches disappear fast.

 

 

Roasted Lemon Chicken

lemonchicken1I love cooking in my iron skillet, flavoring with herbs and lemon, and easy entrees, so this is a new favorite. Served with a mixture of white, brown, and wild rice and a pan of roasted brussel sprouts with apples and pecans, everyone at our table gave it a thumbs up!  This is my version of Ina Garten’s recipe.

Roasted Lemon Chicken

1 teaspoon thyme (I used Penzey’s French Thyme)

 1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup good olive oil

2  lemons, 1 halved and sliced, the second lemon juiced

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

½ cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the thyme, 1 teaspoon salt,  1 teaspoon pepper and 1/3 cup olive oil  into a small bowl and set aside.

Put the lemon slices in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and scatter the onion and garlic over lemons. Place the chicken on top and rub with about half the herb mixture. Turn chicken breasts over, pat dry with paper towel. and rub with the rest of the oil and herb mixture.

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Pour the wine into the pan at edges of chicken and roast for another 15 minutes. Cover skillet tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for about 10 minutes Serve hot with the pan juices, lemon, and onion.

lemonchicken2