Molasses Butternut Squash

My hubby does NOT like butternut squash. I mean does. not. like. butternut. squash. He especially detests butternut squash soup. I, on the other hand, LOVE butternut squash. This is an important fact because normally he will eat (and enjoy) anything I make. (While this makes dinner slightly more simple, it is frustrating when I ask for an honest opinion on various dishes. If you don’t like something, I blame the hubby! j/k). His dislike of this fantastic veggie aside, I really wanted some while it was in season and had been dying to try my own variation of several versions of this recipe I had seen over the past few months, ok, years! ...

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Kitchen Sink Sauce

Versatility. I love versatility. I love boots that can be worn in the winter with pants and sweaters just as easily as they can in the summer with a sundress and a floppy hat. I love movies that are age appropriate for children, but which adults can also enjoy (not just suffer through!) – hello Frozen. I love my SUV that makes me feel a little bit sexy and cool, but is also safe for my children and provides easy access to all their shtuff. ...

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Sangria at La Sandia

We love wine in our home. One might call it a passion or obsession (I blame the parents). Sometimes, though, you want something, well, different – maybe something with some spice, spunk, a little kick. A drink that leaves your stomach doing a happy dance and begging for another round. Found it! Before our recent move to CA, we lived in Washington, DC (well, not IN DC, just outside in a town called Leesburg in Virginia. But, let’s be honest, have you EVER heard of Leesburg? I didn’t think so. So, just roll with me please). Back to the point: we lived in DC near Tysons Galleria – one of those really big and fancy malls with a bunch of great restaurants. One of them just happens to be La Sandia. Unfortunately, the only time I ever had the chance to dine there, I was 5 months pregnant and on a lunch break from work. So, when the adorable waiter asked if we would like to try their fantastic and famous sangria, I declined. Picture this: pregnant lady walks into fantastic Mexican restaurant and can’t have a beer, a margarita, wine, or sangria. Responsible, but such a bummer! Pregnant lady gives birth to a beautiful baby boy and about the time she can start drinking again, they move halfway across the country. A few months later, they move the rest of the way. Now she will never know the delicious nectar of the sangria! Her loving husband says he had the most amazing guacamole and sangria at this great Mexican restaurant at Santa Monica place. “Do you want to go?” he asks her. Um, duh! ...

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Hummus Love

Every Sunday morning we take a family trip to the local farmer’s market. I look forward to it all week (sometimes I even run there and let the hubby and boy meet me there – yay for a little exercise before indulging in everything the market has to offer! The only downside is that now I am shopping hungry. Good thing the hubby brought ALL the reusable bags!). Farmer’s markets have really evolved. They now sell clothing, jewelry, tamales, home made soaps, and even have petting zoos and pony rides! Our weakness, aside from all the fresh produce that I don’t need, but want, and promise the hubby I will find a delicious way to use before it spoils, is that Israeli stand that sells a billion hummus flavors, tziki, flatbread, and other delicious dips. We have managed, through much trial and error, to narrow down our weekly purchases to just the original hummus and the habanero hummus. They are DELICIOUS and very addicting – like, sit down to watch half a football game while the boy is sleeping and suddenly it is gone addicting. There went $10! What?! $10! It’s just pureed beans! Oh golly. ...

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Herb Cheese Crackers

It is November. The cold, crisp air should have me craving a hearty chili, crusty bread, and a steaming cup of tea. Instead, the 85-degree weather and constantly sunny skies have me reaching for a lighter fare more inline with my standard summer spread and it begins with these fantastic herb cheese crackers. I serve these with creamy brie, big red muscato grapes, and a glass of bubbles (or crisp white wine, such as sauvignon blanc).

Herb Cheese Crackers

The Fantastic Cook Could:
Double (or triple!) the recipe and freeze the extra. If well-sealed, it should stay in the freezer for up to 6 months. Just put it in the fridge overnight to defrost. I like to have several varieties on hand so I can please any theme, mood, or cheese selection.

Play around with the mix-ins. Instead of herbs, what about minced pistachios or chopped dried cranberries? The options are endless! If you don’t want to risk making a combination you don’t like, divide the dough in half and experiment.

  • 1/4 pound butter (1 stick) at room temperature
  • 4 oz parmesan cheese (about 1 cup-ish)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for about 1 minute. Turn the speed to low and add the parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper. Then, add in the flour and mix until combined. It should be crumbly and dough-like. If it is too dry, add a dash of water (a teaspoon or so at a time).

Dump the dough onto the counter and work into a log shape. Put the log shape onto a big piece of saran wrap and continue to form the log to whatever length and thickness you desire. I like having lots of small, bite-size crackers so I make a pretty long and thin log.

Once done, close up the ends of the saran wrap and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. I think it’s best if it can be left overnight as that gets it really hard and makes it much easier to cut.

When ready to cook them, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the crackers about 3/8-inches thick (don’t measure them. So long as they’re about the same size it will be fine). Place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake them for 20 - 22 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees half-way through.

Cool and serve.


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