We were at the farmer’s market the other day and saw these huge blue colored squashes I had never seen before. When we inquired what they were, they said they were hubbard squash and they’re delicious. She also said since they are so big, it’s best to throw it on the ground to open it up. Hmmm, I love winter squashes and I love smashing things, so why not? Even if it tastes bad, it would be four dollars well spent just to smash it. I decided to make hubbard squash soup to start with.

Cue the Smashing Pumpkin’s song (or in this case Smashing Squash) and let’s break this thing open!

Continue reading “HUBBARD SQUASH SOUP”

Haluski and Czernina

Haluski, czernina (duck blood soup), a garden salad, and a paczki for dessert.  With it being Noodle Week and Fat Tuesday, this was the perfect dish.  It’s Polish and has noodles.  Continue reading “Haluski and Czernina”

The Beet Meal

With it being Valentine’s Day, my heart sure has been BEETing.  So I decided to make a four course beet meal for Valentine’s Day.  Hearts are red and so are beets.  Hearts beat, and well, beets are beets.  The meal was beef tenderloin steaks with red wine tarragon sauce with a side of beet greens, roasted beet and potato borscht, and a side salad with beets, oranges, and feta cheese.  And for dessert, a beet cake.  Yes, you read that right.  A BEET bundt cake.  I’ve never had any of these beets dishes before and they were all surprisingly great!  The kitchen looked like a crime scene afterwards, but it was worth it.  Even the beet cake was pretty tasty.  It wasn’t nearly as gross as it sounds.  It’s a very moist chocolate cake with just a hint of beet aftertaste.  After my first bite I wasn’t sure.  But after a few more I decided I really liked it.  I probably won’t make it again unless we are having a huge beet fan over for dinner.  Now I need to pretend I’m in an episode of CSI and clean-up my kitchen.


Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Red Wine Tarragon Sauce

Beet Greens with Bacon

Roasted Beet and Potato Borscht

Beet Chocolate Bundt Cake

Ellie’s Birthday Dinner

Beef and chicken tacos, with beans and rice, chicken tortilla soup, and a caesar salad.  Topping it off with homemade chocolate cupcakes (from scratch) smothered with a homemade cream cheese frosting.  The tacos were just your regular Ortega taco mix with the fixins’, and my mom made the salad and the soup.  The cupcakes were for Ellie’s birthday and our friend Lindsey gave me the recipe.  She’s a bit of a pro when it comes to making desserts.  I’ve never made cupcakes or frosting from scratch, so this was my first experience at melting chocolate and whipping sugar into butter.  I’m not really big on chocolate, but dang, these cupcakes were great even without any frosting.  One word, BUTTER!  I think I gained 5 pounds just looking at them.  But butter makes everything better.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

Caesar Salad w/ Homemade Dressing

Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake (or Cupcakes!!)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sat
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (may need a smidge more if the mix seems dry…)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I put in closer to 8 ounces)

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

* If you are making a cake – Butter two 9×2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

* If you are making cupcakes – One batch of these makes about 23 cupcakes.

To Make the Cake: Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking sola and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until it is thoroughly blended into the butter. Add the eggs one at a time, then the yolks one by one, beating for full minute after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients in 3 portions and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); mix only until each new batch is blended into the batter. Note: I ended up adding a couple more splashes of buttermilk as I was blending… So feel free to add a smidge if the batter seems like it needs it. Scrape down the bowl and, add the melted chocolate, folding it in with a rubber spatula.

* If you are making a cake – Divide the batter between the cake pans. Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, or until the cakes feel springy to the touch and start to pull away from the sides of the pans.

* If you are making cupcakes – Use a 1/4 cup measuring spoon to scoop the batter into each cupcake hole. Bake for about 17 minutes, and then check for ‘doneness’. Stick a toothpick in the center – should come out clean, with a bunch of moist crumbs sticking to it. Let cool completely before frosting them!

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 bars cream cheese (room temperature)
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup powdered sugar (add more if sweeter frosting is desired)
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* A teaspoon or so of half and half if needed, only if the frosting seems too thick at the end.

Cream together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, and completely blended, at least a few minutes. Add the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar a bit at a time, all the while mixing away with your stand mixer or hand mixer. Add the half and half if needed…