Caramelized Butternut Squash

It’s fall, and I’m excited.

It’s my favorite season to cook and bake, and find myself going through magazines, scrounging through books, and checking out websites non-stop to find good fall recipes. I’ve noticed that fall is the favorite season of a lot of my fellow food bloggers too, which makes me happy. For happy and inspired food bloggers = yummy posts!

So, as a happy blogger myself I made squash last night for dinner. My Nanny gave it to me and right away I knew what to do with it – caramelize it! Begin by peeling the squash and chop into large pieces. This peeling process takes a while, but it’s totally worth it.

Then combine squash, butter, sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss together. Pour squash out onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about an hour or until browned.

This recipe is original and serves 8 hungry squash lovers as a side dish.

Caramelized Butternut Squash
Ingredients:
1 medium sized butternut sqaush
6 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 400°F.
2. Peel squash and chop into large pieces.
3. Combine squash, butter, sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss.
4. Pour squash out onto a rimmed baking sheet.
5. Bake for about an hour or until browned.

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The Absolute Best Cinnamon Rolls

I seriously love cinnamon rolls. The smell of fresh cinnamon and bread baking in the oven is overwhelming. Perfect. Beautiful.

I have made a number of recipes in my life and always go with the same one when trying to impress company.

The secret is in the frosting. Maple baby. I could eat a whole bowl of the stuff. Sugar comas are a common thing in my house. Just mix together all ingredients listed and stir until smooth. It should be thick but pourable.

The recipe I’m about to share with you was taken from the Pioneer Woman, and she knows her rolls! Golly I love her. Let’s get started, sugar mamma! Begin by mixing the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan and heat until just before the boiling point. Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

After rising for at least an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together.

When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.

Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans.

Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees (see note below) until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Generously drizzle that yummy maple frosting over the warm rolls. Go crazy and don’t skimp on the frosting. Seriously.

Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Cinnamon rolls
1 quart Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast
8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
Plenty Of Melted Butter
2 cups Sugar
Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon

Maple Frosting
1 bag Powdered Sugar
2 teaspoons Maple Flavoring
½ cups Milk
¼ cups Melted Butter
¼ cups Brewed Coffee
⅛ teaspoons Salt

Directions:
Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. “Scald” the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

After rising for at least an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).

When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.

Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans.

Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees (see note below) until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.

For the frosting, mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls. Go crazy and don’t skimp on the frosting.

Nanny’s Butterscotch Pie

Oh my, Beautiful Butterscotch Pie.

My Nanny (another word for Grandmother in my family) makes the best butterscotch pie going. Since I was little I remember finishing my dinner quickly, and sitting patiently at the table until it was pie time. Butterscotch pie only comes out at special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, and when it does I go wild for it. WILD I tell you. I could eat a whole pie and be completely content.

Since Thanksgiving (Canadian of course) is coming up, I thought I’d share my favorite dessert with you. A dessert that really means something to me. It reminds me of family, and how happy a simple meal could make us when I was a child. It reminds of a time when I wasn’t constantly worrying about scholarships and deadlines. This dessert is special to me, my favorite, and I hope you like it :)

First, prepare your crust in a 9-inch pie pan. My favorite pie crust recipe is by the Pioneer Woman, and I use it for ALL of my pies and most of my tarts. This filling recipe makes enough for one pie, so double the recipe if you need to make two.

To prepare the filling, separate your eggs, lightly beat yolks and set aside the whites (you’ll use these for the meringue later). In a double boiler, whisk together all of the filling ingredients until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and pour into your pre-baked pie shell.

Once you’ve poured your amazing concoction into your pie shell, you can start your meringue.

Immediately spread the meringue over the hot filling, anchoring it to the edge of the crust at all points. Place meringue VERY close to the crust, working inward.

Bake for 20 minutes (or until meringue has a nice brown top) at 350 degrees F. Let it cool on a wire rack and serve!

Nanny’s Butterscotch Pie
Makes filling for one 9-inch pie

Ingredients:
Perfect Pie Crust
1. Get the recipe and directions here.

Filling:
1 cup brown sugar
4 HEAPING tbsp all purpose flour
2 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter

Meringue:
2 large egg whites (1/2 cup), at room temperature
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp vinegar

Directions:
1. Prepare your crust in a 9-inch pie pan, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.To prepare the filling, separate your eggs, lightly beat yolks and set aside the whites (you’ll use these for the meringue later). In a double boiler, whisk together all of the filling ingredients until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and pour into your pre-baked pie shell.

3. To prepare meringue:
a) In a clean, grease free glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy.
b) Add cream of tartar and beat until soft but definite peaks form.
c) Very gradually beat in sugar. Beat on high speed until the peaks are stiff and glossy, but not dry.
d) Add vanilla and vinegar.
e) Immediately spread the meringue over a hot pie filling, anchoring it to the edge of the crust at all points. Place meringue VERY close to the crust, working inward.

4. Bake for 20 minutes (or until meringue has a nice brown top), and cool on a wire rack.
5. Serve and enjoy!

*The pie can be stored for up to three days in the refridgerator.

Traditional Swiss Cheese Fondue

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently returned from a 2 month tour of Europe. The food in every country I visited (Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, and England) was amazing, and each country had it’s own special meal that I’m now finding myself missing very much. I spent most of my time (half my trip in fact) in Switzerland, seeing the sights, and trying as much food as I possibly could. I fell in love. Traditional Swiss food is simple, plain, and very tasty. It’s no lie that the Swiss eat a lot of cheese, and probably because they make the best. Say what you want. I tried the famous cheeses in France, tasted cheddar cheese from Cheddar, but Swiss Gruyere cheese is Mmm-mmm-good!

And MELTED Gruyere cheese? Even better. Luckily, during my stay in Switzerland I got to know many of the locals. One man in particular would often make traditional meals like Raclette, various pasta bakes and potato dishes, and of course traditional Swiss Fondue.

I simply couldn’t leave Switzerland without knowing how to make Fondue. The secret? You need the right cheese. Gruyere and Vacherin. Yeah baby. This recipe will serve a crowd of 6 for an appetizer, but double the recipe to make a main meal! It’s super easy, and you won’t regret it :) First, grate the scrumptious cheese.

Then get your garlic, onions and mushrooms together in a saucepan. Add the wine and grappa, stir in the cheese and transfer the yummy hot cheese mixture into your fondue pot.

Serve with cubed dipping bread, and eat the night away. Don’t expect regular bowel movement after this…for serious :P

This recipe serves 6 people for an appetizer-sized meal. Double/triple the recipe to make it a main.

Ingredients:
-Rustic bread for dipping, cut into cubes (if it’s a fresh loaf, I recommend cutting it up a few hours ahead and letting it sit out so it hardens a bit and is less likely to fall off the fondue forks into the cheese)
-1/2 pound Gruyere cheese
-1/2 pound Vacherin cheese
-2 tbsp all-purpose flour
-1 tsp butter
-1/2 large onion
-1 clove garlic
-1 cup DRY white wine
-1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced very thinly (optional)
-2 tbsp Swiss Grappa (optional)
-dash of pepper

Directions:
1. Grate the cheese and toss the cheese with the 2 tablespoons flour in a large bowl.
2. In a large saucepan melt butter. Add chopped garlic and onions and fry until the onions start turn glossy and clear. Add mushrooms and fry for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the wine and grappa to the saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
4. Lower the heat to medium low, and stir in the cheese 1/2 cup at a time until it is pretty much melted. Add the pepper.
5. Pour hot cheese mixture into fondue pots and serve with yummy dipping bread.