Candied Butternut Squash with Cinnamon and Honey Recipe

My wife bought a butternut squash at least a couple of weeks ago and we’ve been putting off using it till we could figure out what to do with it. Well, the other day she found a recipe that looked like something I might actually like that has honey and cinnamon in it. Cinnamon is one of my favorite ingredients after all. I’ve modified the original recipe to include brown sugar and nutmeg based on some of the comments on the site.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash, quartered lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Scoop seeds out of butternut squash.
  2. Arrange butternut squash pieces, cut-side down, in a large baking dish.
  3. Pour hot water in the baking dish to a depth of about 1/4-inch.
  4. Bake butternut squash at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tender.
  5. Cool squash; peel.
  6. Cut squash into 1/2-inch squares and place in a 9x13x2-inch baking dish.
  7. Pour butter and honey over squash, then sprinkle with pecans and cinnamon.
  8. Return to oven and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until butternut squash is glazed and hot.

Unlike regular squash, butternut squash is kind of hard. It was not easy to slice it open to get the seeds out. Once I had it cut open, it kind of resembled pumpkin. It was orange inside and had seeds that looked a bit like pumpkin seeds as well. Because it is such a hard vegetable to cut, I’d suggest using a rather large chef knife or something similar.

I wasn’t quite sure how the recipe called for them to be quartered lengthwise, so I just made another long cut which left them kind of looking like giant spoons of some sort.

While I let them bake in the oven to soften, I chopped up the pecans and mixed the other ingredients. I did things a little differently than called for in the original recipe. They mentioned pouring the butter and honey over the squash and then sprinkling with pecan and cinnamon. I decided it would be better to mix them all together and pour the whole thing over them.

I added the butter and honey to the pecans with the other ingredients and mixed them thoroughly before pouring them over the squash. I put it back in the over for about 20 minutes and went on to prepare the tilapia we were having. The butternut squash looked great when it came out of the oven.

We fixed up out plate with tilapia, butternut squash, and peas. As we headed out into the other room to eat, I was hopeful that the cinnamon, brown sugar, and honey had made the butternut squash sweet and delicious.

Well, that didn’t quite go like I planned. The initial taste of cinnamon, brown sugar and honey was OK, but there was an awful aftertaste that I didn’t care for at all. I haven’t had pecans before so I wasn’t sure if it was them or the butternut squash at first. I’m pretty sure it was the squash since it kind of tasted a little like the squash smelled when I first cut it open.

Linda didn’t care for it either. At first maybe I thought I had messed up or the squash wasn’t ripe or maybe over ripe. However, Linda took it in to Gold’s Gym the next day and some of the people there loved it.

All in all, I’d have to say this probably won’t go over well with a fussy eater, but it may be quite a treat for those with a less picky palate.

via Butternut Squash Recipe – Candied Butternut Squash with Cinnamon and Honey.

Here is Linda’s take on the butternut squash. http://www.getmotivatedgetmovinggethealthy.com/2012/09/29/butternut-squash-oy-vey/

Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

Fall has arrived. With it comes the fall meals like pot roast and meatloaf. Usually, I do most of the cooking at our house, because my wife got tired of the restrictions that I put on so many meals. However, she does still make a few dishes that I really enjoy. Pot roast is one of them, and meatloaf is another. She cooks in the same way I do, which means she doesn’t measure things out either.

She starts with approximately 1 lb of ground beef. I think we typically get the 85% lean ground beef. Then she adds an egg, some half-n-half, bread crumbs, and the Instant Gourmet seasoning she used on the pot roast. She turns the oven on 350 and then sets a timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off we check the meatloaf to see how much more time it looks like it needs. Usually it’s just another 15 minutes. While we waited, I prepared a batch of Betty Crocker Butter and Herb Mashed Potatoes. I don’t boil the water/mix until the meatloaf comes out since it cooks so quickly.

Her meatloaf is delicious. It’s a nice hearty meal that really hits the spot on a chilly evening. The potatoes are great too. I’m not usually a fan of mashed potatoes, perhaps due to the uneven texture. With instant potatoes that’s not a problem. They also have a nice buttery taste. I think I ate half of the potatoes myself. Linda only had a little bit. The only thing I don’t care for about the potatoes is that they don’t reheat well. I can have leftover meatloaf another day, but I need to make up another pouch of instant potatoes to go with it.

I got a little adventurous and even put a little gravy on both the meatloaf and potatoes. I don’t usually do that.

Another Go At Joe’s

My wife and I were lucky enough to get an invite to the mock service (I found out that’s what they officially call it) at Joe’s Crab Shack a while back. Since then, we thought about going back, but the wait was way too long at around two hours. We headed over mid-afternoon over the weekend and it was only one hour so we decided to wait it out.

They are a little more high tech than most places. They don’t give you some little device that lights up to tell you your table is ready. They ask for a cell number and you get a text. That means you aren’t tethered to the building, if you wanted to run out and take care of a few errands while waiting. We  figured we would wait there in case seats opened up at the bar, but had no such luck. The wait did give us a chance to look over the menu. When we were at the mock service they had a very limited menu to choose from, so know we got to see everything. There was a lot to choose from.

Since we had plenty of time to kill, we decided to try one of their specialty drinks – The Shark Bite. It’s made from Bacardi Limón Rum, Skyy Vodka, and blue curacao. On the side of the glass they give you small plastic shark with grenadine. When you pour it in it doesn’t mix on it’s own so it looks like blood in the water – hence the name Shark Bite. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was really good. I have a major sweet tooth and it was definitely sweet.

When our table was ready we already knew the appetizers we wanted. I got mozzarella sticks and Linda got the crab dip. The mozzarella sticks were delicious and there were a lot of them too. Linda wasn’t so lucky with the crab dip. It was cold. Each of our kids has worked in food service at one time or another so we know better than to blame the wait staff, but our waitress Deanna was very apologetic anyway and called over a manager who said they were going to bring us another one on the house.

For our entrees, I decided to go with the fish and chips. Linda went with Queen Crab with Old Bay flavor. We had never heard of queen crab. It was bigger than snow crab but not spiny like king crab. Linda loved it. She gave me a taste and it wasn’t bad. My fish and chips were good too. Unfortunately, I was so eager to eat, that I completely forgot to take a picture of it first.

When we were just about done with our meals, Linda pointed out the dessert special – Campfire S’Mores. I thought about getting it, but noticed someone at the table behind us with this awesome looking chocolate cake. When Deanna returned, she let us in on a little secret – the s’mores include a smaller piece of the same cake. That was enough to make up my mind. I got the Campfire S’Mores.

They bring it out to you in a cast iron pan. Unfortunately I didn’t include my fork in the picture to give you a sense of scale. It’s a pretty big dessert. There’s graham cracker at the bottom, then chocolate cake, then more graham cracker, a chocolate bar, and it is all topped off with marshmallows. I was in heaven. I was full before I finished it, but just couldn’t bear to leave any behind. This was a special dessert so I don’t know if every Joe’s Crab Shack serves it. If they have it at your local Joe’s, I highly recommend it.

Adirondack Balloon Festival

Nothing says fall has arrived like the changing of the leaves – except for my wife’s pot roast and the Adirondack Balloon Festival. It’s pretty much a yearly tradition with us and we were fortunate enough to get two of our kids to go with us this year. We get up well before dawn to make an hour drive up to the sunrise launch. The first year we went, we were quite surprised that they let you get right up close and personal with the balloons. In past years, we even helped spread out one of the balloons. The picture up inside the balloon was not taken with zoom. I really was right behind the basket.

Little by little the balloons start popping up like popcorn against the sunrise. It’s really an impressive sight. They launch around 100 balloons by 8:00. The sky is filled with balloons rather quickly and then just as quickly, the wind carries them away.

There are generally two highlights that get the crowd’s attention. The first is flames. People just love it when they fire up the burners. Some of the crews even light them up before the balloon has even been spread out just to excite the crowd (and possibly test systems too, I’m sure). The best flames can be seen once the balloons are upright. Against the early morning sky, they look so majestic lit up from the inside.

The second crowd pleaser is the custom balloons. Most of the balloons are the standard shape, but look around a little and you can see somewhat goofy looking balloons with strange faces. Sometimes, they don’t even look like balloons at all. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the balloon festival. To commemorate the event they had a giant birthday cake balloon. They probably could have done a better job picking out a place to set up though. The cake looked like it was in danger of being eaten by a large dinosaur.

After the launch, we head to The Silo, a restaurant and gift shop nearby to get breakfast. The place is an old renovated barn complete with silo, its namesake. They make a great breakfast up there. Most of us ordered The Big Country which consists of 3 eggs, 3 pieces of bacon, home fries, toast, and 2 pancakes.

It’s a great hearty breakfast that’s really hits the spot. I ate everything but the home fries. It’s a great way to wrap up a really awe inspiring morning. Even with the stop for a large breakfast, we still get home between 10:30 and 11:00.

If they have a balloon festival near you, I would really recommend that you check it out. If it’s the Adirondack Balloon Festival, make sure you stop in at The Silo afterwards for breakfast – you won’t regret it.

Parmesan Chicken with Pasta and Peas

Since the number of things I’ll eat is a bit more limited than it is for most people, I try to find ways to prepare things I like in different combinations so I don’t get bored having the same basic thing week after week. I often make sauteed chicken with pasta. That can get a little old after a while. To change things up, I will sometimes add a vegetable in to add a little flavor and color.

We had some extra chicken thawed out from when we made the citrus garlic tacos that I didn’t care for. I sauteed that up in a pan and seasoned it with black pepper. Then I started some wheat pasta. I’ve switched to wheat pasta within the past year to try to make my meals a little more healthy. I usually use Rotini, but you can use whatever pasta you like – it doesn’t have to be wheat either. When the chicken and pasta are almost done, I toss some peas in the microwave.

After I strain the pasta, I add in a generous helping of Parmesan cheese. Then I stir in the chicken and the peas. It makes for a quick, healthy meal that even a fussy eater can enjoy. If they don’t like peas, you can substitute a vegetable that they do like. I will sometimes use broccoli that I cut up into very small bits so it makes them easier to mix and eat.

Citrus Garlic Chicken Tacos

My wife picked up this citrus garlic marinade the other day and wanted to try it for tacos. I’m not a fan of garlic, but she says it’s in other things I do eat. I figured the citrus flavor would probably be the stronger taste anyway. It also gets grilled so I thought some of the marinade would get cooked off. I put the chicken in a food storage bag with the marinade for about 30 minutes. I didn’t care for the smell at all, which didn’t bode well.

The chicken came out looking really good and juicy. I sliced it into strips to put into tacos. Since I was a bit nervous about trying them, Linda offered to take the pieces on the outside with more seasoning on them. I just used the pieces from the inside that only had a little.

We both added a little shredded colby jack cheese and microwaved them about 30 seconds to get the cheese to melt and the tortilla to soften a bit. Linda then added sour cream to hers. I left mine as is and rolled it up. I always fold up the very bottom first so nothing will fall out. Then I roll it up from the side closest to the meat and cheese.

So it pretty much looked like a typical taco with chicken (we usually use ground turkey). I bit into the first bite and it wasn’t bad. I didn’t really get any seasoning until a few bites later. Only the cheese made that bearable at all. The garlic in the marinade was a bit stronger than I thought. It also had cilantro so that might have also turned me off. Either way, I don’t think I’ll be having one of these again – at least not with that marinade.

Hatfield Peppercorn Pork

I’ve mentioned the Hatfield Southwestern Adobo Pork before. Hatfield makes a lot of different flavors. While I won’t be trying the Mushroom or the Lemon Garlic anytime soon, the Peppercorn is a little more appealing. I have actually had it before. However, I prepared it differently this time.

I didn’t remember the cooking directions so I had to read them off the package. Sadly, to do so, I need to break out my reading glasses. When I looked at the side of the package, I was surprised to find that, in addition to the baking directions, they also gave grilling directions. I hadn’t thought of grilling them before, but we love to grill even in the winter so I decided to give it a try.

I fired up the grill and turned it just shy of the highest setting – I didn’t want it to burn. The directions said to grill it for about 25 minutes. I turned it every 10 minutes and took it out just a little after 25 minutes and let it stand for a few minutes more. It hadn’t burned but came out looking very good.

The Peppercorn pork is probably a little spicier than the Southwestern Adobo. That seems a bit odd to say, but they really go heavy on the peppercorn. It’s almost a little too spicy, but it’s not a bad taste. I just keep a little extra Brisk Iced Tea on hand to wash it down.

I don’t buy these pork tenderloins often, but when they are on a BOGO (Buy One Get One) sale, I always try to pick up a few. For the really fussy eater unwilling to try Peppercorn or Southwestern Adobo, they also have an Oven Roasted which is pretty much plain. I’d suggest getting one of those and one flavored one to try.

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