Monday, December 21, 2015

Cheesy Twice-Baked Butternut Squash

Just when I thought I had found my favorite butternut squash dish, this one came along and rose quickly to the top.  In fact, after our CSA squash was exhausted, I found myself shopping for more at the grocery store.  I doubled this recipe and took it to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house, where the small amount that was left after dinner was gone by the end of the evening as people went back for more.  I have even made it a couple of times since Thanksgiving, taking advantage of the seasonal produce sales.  This is my kids' and husband's favorite way to eat butternut squash, hands down.

  • 1 butternut squash (~2 lb.)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 1/8 tsp.  paprika
  • 6 RITZ Crackers, crushed (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  1. Heat oven to 425ºF.
  2. Cut squash lengthwise in half; scoop out seeds. Add water to 13x9-inch baking dish; place squash, cut sides down, in dish. Cover.
  3. Bake 40 min. or until squash is tender when pierced with knife. Cool 10 min. Transfer squash to cutting board; drain liquid from dish.
  4. Scoop out squash into medium bowl, leaving 1/4-inch-thick shells. Add cheese, sour cream, chives and paprika to squash flesh; mix well. Spoon into shells. Mix cracker crumbs and butter; sprinkle over squash. Return to baking dish. Alternatively: Rather than putting the mixture back into the shells, you can put it into a small baking dish.
  5. Bake 22 to 24 min. or until heated through.
Difficulty: Easy
Time: about 1 hour and 20 miutes, most of which is hands-off time

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookie Ball Jar Mix

For several years now (at least since my husband got me a stand mixer for Christmas), my kids and I have spent time around the holidays making many different kinds of cookies to give to friends, family, and teachers as gifts.  This year, we have decided on a variation of this idea and are giving these beautiful quart ball jars filled with a layered mix for the recipients to make nearly four dozen cookies.  My kids and I have enjoyed the time that we have spent making these gifts, and they have shouted out names that they have assigned to each one as we build them, assembly-line style.  Many of the jars that we have made are going to their teachers, who certainly deserve a treat!

  • 1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a 1-qt. glass container, layer flour mixture, brown sugar, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, cranberries, walnuts, oats and remaining chips. Cover and store in a cool dry place up to 6 months. Yield: 1 batch (about 4 cups total).
  2. TO PREPARE COOKIES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees In a large bowl, beat butter, egg and vanilla until blended. Add cookie mix and mix well.
  3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.

Feel free to print this tag to use with your cookies!

Difficulty: Easy - my kids helped with most of the prep
Time: Depends on how many jars you are making at a time.  I would estimate less than 10 minutes each.  To make the cookies will take another 20-30 minutes.
Source: (template for the gift tag is from