Out of everything we grew in the garden this year, I think I’m most proud of the butternut squash. It was the first time we’d ever tried growing our own and somehow, they turned out 100 times better than anything I could buy in the store.
Even compared to the best I’ve had in the past, these were sweeter and an almost annoyingly-neon orange inside. There’s still 1-2 on the porch, waiting to be used, plus a few in the freezer that I roasted and put away for quick weeknight meals, like this one.
A few weeks ago, Crown Maple offered up a challenge to take a sweet recipe and give it a savory twist using their maple syrup. First of all – sweet and savory in one dish? Sign me up. And having an excuse to do all this with some amazing maple syrup? It was a no brainer.
Most butternut squash casserole-type dishes I’ve had err on the sweet side with nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, etc. And with the sweetness from the maple syrup, I knew I needed everything else smoky, savory, and salty to really make this dish shine.
So I put some of my favorite things together for the topping on this: smoked paprika. bacon. onions. fresh rosemary.
And, of course, some Crown Maple Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup to bring in some richness.
Thanks to the butternut squash I had squirreled away in the freezer this summer, this dish came together in about 30 minutes! Perfect for an easy weeknight meal (especially if you have frozen squash) and for holiday dinners.
We had this with some green beans and bone-in pork chops the other night….and it may be one of my favorite fall meals that I’ve made so far. But you can never go wrong with bacon + maple syrup.
This recipe is entered in the Crown Maple #TaptoTable contest – I can’t wait to see the other dishes! Make sure to check out Crown Maple on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too. I love their syrup (and the cute packaging!).
Baked Butternut Squash with Bacon, Onion, Maple, and Rosemary
This has almost all of my favorite things: creamy butternut squash, salty bacon, sweet maple syrup and onions, and fresh rosemary. I microwaved my butternut squash to cut down on the prep time, making this dish easy to whip up on busy weeknight.
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 scallions, sliced
- 2 Tbsp Crown Maple Dark Amber syrup
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- Slice the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and either bake the squash (at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes) or microwave the squash (in dish with 1” of water) until it is cooked through and tender.
- Mix the cooked squash with the salt, smoked paprika, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Spoon the mixture into a greased baking dish and smooth out into an even layer.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook the bacon until crisp, the remove from the pan. Add the onion and scallions to the pan with the bacon fat and cook over medium until tender. Crumble the bacon and add back to the onion mixture. Stir in the maple syrup and rosemary.
- Spoon the bacon mixture over the top of the squash. Bake the dish at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until warmed through.
Happy day after Christmas!
I’m a big fan of this time of year, mostly because I can stay in my pajamas for the majority of the day and it’s perfectly acceptable.
Also because eating things like fudge and chocolate bark and oreo truffles for breakfast is a-okay.
Like the past few years, Nick and I have made mostly homemade gifts for our family. Toffee is a definite. Cocoa-crusted mixed nuts are always a hit. There was some cookies’n'mint bark that happened this year (coming soon – it’s addicting!). But one of my favorites are these oreo truffles.
I know. They’re everywhere. I tried so hard to resist making them. But they’re seriously easy, and so much fun to amp up with new flavors and toppings. Last year I did some double mint oreo truffles (yum).
But this year? I went a little tropical.
Thanks to a fantastic little baking set I got through Mixed and McCormick, I have a brand new stash of extracts. And as soon as I saw the coconut, I knew it had to make it into some kind of holiday treat.
Chocolate + crushed cookies + cream cheese + COCONUT?! Yes. How could it not be good?
The great thing about extracts is that you don’t need much. Just a few little drops took these classic oreo truffles to the next level. And then, just for fun, I added a sprinkling of toasted coconut on top. Any time you can add toasted coconut, just do it. It’s a beautiful thing.
If you’re still looking for some fun holiday season treats to whip up, I think these need to be added to your list.
A little twist on the classic, these rich little bites will be a hit! I think they roll even easier if you make the dough mixture the day before you want to roll/dip them in chocolate.
- 1 package oreo cookies
- 1 8-oz. package low fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 tsp coconut extract
- 2 cups chocolate chips (white, semi-sweet, or a mix if you want both)
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- toasted coconut for topping (optional)
- Place all the oreos in the bowl of a food processor and turn it on. Let the machine run until the cookies are ground and there are no large chunks of cookie left.
- Add the cream cheese and coconut extract to the oreos and turn it on again, letting it process until the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese are mixed together and have formed a ball of dough.
- Put the oreo mixture in a bowl and let it chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Scoop about 1 Tbsp of the cookie mixture from the bowl, roll it into a ball, and repeat until all the truffle fillings are ready to dip.
- Pour your chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat for 2 minutes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in the coconut oil.
- Drop a truffle into the melted chocolate, roll it around with a spoon or fork to cover it completely, and then lift it out of the bowl on a fork or slotted spoon to let the extra chocolate drip off.
- Place the chocolate-dipped candy on parchment paper and repeat with the rest of the truffles. While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle a bit of the toasted coconut on the top of each truffle.
- Serve once the chocolate has set.
You guys. I have the funniest (maybe also grossest?) story to share, but it’s going to have to wait. I promise it’s coming – I’m totally embarrassed and don’t want anyone to know, but… it’s wayyyy too funny to keep to myself.
But first! I have 2 great giveaways from one of my favorite companies.
Have you heard of Nudo? If you have, I’m sure its because of their incredible olive oil and the adopt-an-olive-tree program. Check it out if you haven’t!
I first had the chance to try Nudo olive oil when I got some in the swag bag from the RockHer party in Atlanta a few years ago and I. fell. in. love.
Their packaging is fabulous. They let you adopt your OWN OLIVE TREE, and you get to reap the benefits of it all year long. Plus, if you find yourself in Italy, you can go hug it, take a picture with it, and spend some time thanking it for all the oil.
Now Nudo is offering a similar adoption program, but with Darjeeling tea.
When you adopt a Darjeeling tea garden for a year (and you even get to choose the garden and grower!), you will get some of the best quality “first flush” loose leaf tea four times a year from your garden. Where else can you get this?
And to make it even better, the Adopt A Tea Garden program is all about sustainability. Nudo has teamed up with local producers to restore deserted tea gardens for the program. Using biodynamic and organic farming practices, local farmers can now reopen those tea gardens, creating more jobs for the local tea pickers and growers and creating the opportunity for the younger generations to learn the skills that their families have practiced for centuries.
I’ve really enjoyed all of the teas so far, and I’m thinking of getting myself a tea garden for Christmas this year! But today, I’m really excited that one of you will have the chance to adopt his or her very own tea garden and win a year’s worth of tea! With this and their olive oil program, it really is a gift that keeps on giving – all year long!
You can decide to adopt a tea garden for yourself or as a gift, and then it lets you read all about the different gardens and growers and choose which one you’d like to “adopt”. From tasting notes to learning about the people that work there and harvest your tea, this step really gives light to the great work happening and lets you pick one that you connect with.
Then you get even more info about the “flushes” of tea. Have you ever heard of this before? I really hadn’t before I read up on their website and tried the teas for myself. Basically, the “flushes” are the tea growing seasons with Darjeeling tea. Each flush has slightly different characteristics (which you can see in the graphic above). So even though you’ve only picked one tea garden, each season or “flush” you receive will be slightly different.
But that’s not all!
So one winner will get the Tea Garden adoption, but I also have a great gift box from Nudo up for grabs, too.
Seriously….their olive oil is insanely good. The mandarin orange? I drizzle that on salads by itself. Nothing else needed. And the cocoa olive oil? It’s on its way into some dessert coming soon.
This gift box has a little of everything – one bottle of their extra virgin olive oil, a jar of olive tapenade, a bar of myrtle + red grape soap (which smells incredible), AND a tin for you to grow your own olive tree!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
You can read all about the Adopt A Tea Garden program on Nudo’s website. And you can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Good luck!!
When it comes to trying different desserts, I feel like I’m years behind my age.
At 30, I should have already had homemade rice pudding or creme brulee, but I haven’t. I’ve never made real homemade ice cream or a souffle or baked alaska.
I seem to get stuck on desserts, and most of them involve chocolate.
What can I say? I come from a long line of sugar-lovers, especially in chocolate form. But I love other desserts. Really love them! Lemon cake and ice creams and fruit tarts – there is room for everything on my dessert table. It’s equal opportunity in this house when it comes to sweets, but somehow, chocolate always seems to edge everything else out.
And now, after years of hearing about flourless chocolate cakes and then finally trying one in a restaurant a few years ago, I decided to try to make one at home.
Can we talk about my serious dislike for winter again? I think I figured out one of the biggest reasons I hate it.
Winter makes me realize just how lazy I am.
When it’s freezing outside and already dark when you get home from work….how are you supposed to not be lazy? Can someone explain this to me? It’s like I can’t control myself – I get home, get into pajamas, and I’m ready to be done for the night. Finished. Making dinner is such a chore to me in the winter. I just want to cuddle up on the couch, watch some tv or read a book, and then go to bed.
So, this definitely means making everything as easy as possible for myself because I know I won’t do anything with too many steps.
Enter the dutch baby.
We’ve done this before, with peaches. But this time I’m going with the classic. The first dutch baby I ever had.
Today is a very special day.
We’re celebrating Bev and her twin babies that will be making their worldwide debut soon – and we couldn’t be more excited!
Fun fact: I met Bev for the first time a few years ago in Nashville, but didn’t really get to experience her awesomeness until a year later. Then, we bonded over Phillip Phillips on American Idol, and the rest is history.
I am so excited for Bev and her husband and the two little bundles that are on their way! My guess? Their kids will be insanely talented, super crafty, great cooks, and gorgeous. And definitely hilarious. Most definitely hilarious.
Getting together with a bunch of other bloggers for a virtual baby shower is basically the best thing ever. I get to cook a new dish for a friend, celebrate with everyone, and stay in my sweatpants if I want to. And for Bev’s baby shower, I knew I couldn’t do a typical party food. It needed to be something different – fantastic – full of flavor. Just like Bev’s recipes.
So today, I’m bringing Thai Spiced Chicken with Coconut Cream Swiss Chard. I know.