Monday, September 17, 2018

One Pan Autumn Chicken Dinner

SEASONAL PLATE ( Pilot Independent Food Column)
Great fall flavors that come together in a one pan chicken recipe. It brims with flavor and is loaded with seasonal veggies and sweet apple pieces.

One Pan Autumn Chicken Dinner
Cook's Notes: Some advance planning makes this meal preparation easier.  Marinating the chicken in buttermilk one to two hours ahead tenderizes the meat. Precut butternut squash found in the produce department can cut down the chopping time. Chicken needs to cook longer than the veggies so give it a 30 minute head start. 
Recipe serves 4 and adapted from   
  • 4 bone-in, chicken thighs
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. each rosemary, thyme and parsley
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 large sweet potato, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, cut off bottom and slice lengthwise, remove outer leaves
  • 2 medium apples, cored and sliced into half moon about 3/4 inch thick  
  • 2 cups red onions, chunks 
  • 3 cups butternut squash, cubed 
  • 2 TB. each maple syrup and olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • Optional: chopped parsley, for garnish 
  • Place chicken pieces and buttermilk in a ziploc bag. Place bag in a bowl and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix rosemary, thyme and parsley in a small bowl. Drain chicken in a colander. Line a baking sheet with a silicone pad or parchment paper. Arrange chicken pieces on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and spices.
  • Cover pan with foil and bake 30 minutes. Wipe off any grease on baking sheet. 
  • In a bowl mix maple syrup, olive oil and cinnamon. Add squash, sweet potato cubes, apples and  Brussels sprouts and coat with oil mixture. 
  • Turn oven up to 400 degrees. Arrange veggies, apples and onion chunks around the chicken pieces. Roast for 35 minutes or until chicken, apples and veggies are cooked tender. 
Pair the meal with risotto and Applesauce Cake with Maple Glaze previously posted    

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Amy Thielen

Amy Thielen is a chef, TV cook, and two-time James Beard Award–winning writer. She is the author of "The New Midwestern Table" (2013) and host of Heartland Table on Food Network (2013–2014) and worked for celebrated New York City chefs David Bouley, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Daniel Boulud before moving back home to the Midwest.

Thielen speaks widely about home cooking and contributes to radio programs and magazines, including Saveur, where she’s a contributing editor. She lives with her husband, visual artist Aaron Spangler, their son, his dog, and a bunch of chickens, in Park Rapids, Minnesota.

In 2013 I wrote a review of her first book The New Midwestern Table which features over 200 recipes that show Midwestern cooking like our grandmothers used to do but with a modern freshness. Thielen's cuisine is thrifty, intuitive and seasonal. The New Midwestern Table was a cross between a memoir, a travelogue and a cookbook. Thielen is a strong writer who engages the reader with her keen sense of observation. On this posting I embraced Amy's practical side and choose a recipe from the book that I had ingredients on hand and did not require a grocery store run.

Amy has achieved what some might call "rock star status" in our area in central Minnesota. 
She has a devout following. Note: the creative way knives are displayed with the 3 letter I's on the book cover.
Thielen's newest book Give A Girl A Knife is a food memoir that chronicles her cooking journey from her rural Midwestern hometown to the world of New York City fine dining and back again in search of her culinary roots. The book is written in two narratives. One it is an autobiography about how food can define your life, the special moments and the every day ones. The second narrative is a about a young rural Minnesota-born couple who choose Minnesota over all other places, making some extreme but exciting sacrifices to defend and hold their dream of a "living off the land" existence in the north woods. It’s where Thielen really, truly learned to cook and to honor the way her ancestors cooked in the first place.
Amy is a gifted writer who writes vividly about food. the people who cook it and the places that are important in her life. She engages the reader with her descriptive writing as it chronicles her tenure cooking for some of the finest chefs in some of New York's most famous restaurants.

One of the best testimonials of Give A Girl A Knife is from my writing friend Niomi who says "Put this  book on the top of your book pile! It's an adventure, a love story, a quest-a memoir that reads like a novel. One aha metaphor after another. Quirky characters and lovable characters. Descriptions that transport you from the woods in MN to NYC and back. A great read and a perfect escape from TODAY!"     

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the 26th Annual Donor Society Appreciation Luncheon as guest sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library. Amy Thielen was the keynote speaker. She delivered a witty, honest and candid presentation that endeared her to the audience. While the focus of the presentation was on her writing experiences she did spend a lot of time addressing the need for supporting libraries and how its presence can strengthen communities and bring people togetherAfter her presentation she signed copies of her book and chatted with the guests.  
Here's what I would consider an Amy approved recipe that speaks to Midwestern cooking, a hot dish (casserole) with chicken and wild rice. I happen to know Amy and Aaron have harvested wild rice and she raises chickens. 
Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Friday, September 14, 2018

Applesauce Cake with Maple Glaze

Applesauce Cake with Maple Glaze

Cook's Notes: Capture fall flavors with a yummy moist spice cake glazed with a maple icing. Be sure to add your favorite sprinkles because everything tastes better when sprinkles are added. Serve cake with maple nut ice cream or orange sherbet.
Cake Ingredients: 
  • 1-1/4 cups of white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 cups of sugar
  • 2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/3 cups chunky applesauce
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped peeled apple
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
Cake Directions: 
  • Preheat oven at 350 and grease 13 x 9 pan or use cupcake liners.
  • In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, dash nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  • Add in applesauce, oil and eggs and beat on low speed until ingredients moistened.
  • Beat on high for two minutes, fold in apples, raisins and walnuts
  • Pour into pan or divide among cupcake liners.
  • Bake 13 x 9 pan about 25 minutes or cupcakes 18-22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the center 
Maple Icing
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (do not substitute margarine)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. maple flavoring
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons apple juice, cream or milk 
Icing Directions:
  • Use a mixer beating all ingredients until smooth. Add in more liquid as needed for correct spreading consistency.
Another frosting and cake option from Ever Ready

Since I am an avid dollar store shopper I found this link to be quite interesting.
Things to Avoid Buying from The Dollar Store
Of course keep in mind only one person's opinion but something to think about

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Maple Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash with Toasted Pecans

Maple Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash with Toasted Pecans
Cook's Notes: One of the best things about this time of the year is the abundance of seasonal squash. It's full of vitamin A and C. Even if you aren't a fan of squash I guarantee this vegan dish will win you over with its amazing fragrant and quite delicious combination of maple, cinnamon and rosemary. I almost forgot to photo the squash dish until we were halfway through the bowl! It was that good. 
It's a great side for any fall meal or BBQ. Note squash cubes shrink during roasting time. 

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced  (about 6-8 cups 1-1/2 inch cubes )
  • 2 tablespoons each olive oil, maple syrup, brown sugar  
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon crushed Rosemary leaves
  • 3/4 - 1 cup pecans
  • Optional pinches of cayenne pepper
  • Garnish sprigs of Rosemary 

  • Preheat baking oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone pad or parchment paper. 
  • In a large add olive oil, syrup, brown sugar, salt, Rosemary and cayenne pepper if using. Add in butternut squash cubes and mix well.
  • Spread mixture evenly out on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. remove from oven add pecans and stir mixture to coat pecans. 
  • Roast an additional 5 minutes or until squash is tender. 
  • Serve warm and garnish with Rosemary sprigs or parsley.
Roald Dahl (1916-1990) September 13th
Dahl was inspired by his own children as he made up stories each night for them before they went to bed. In

one of his best known books he tells the fantastic tale of a young abused boy who escapes from his Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker in a magic peach (which sprouts from magic beans). James travels thousands of miles and experiences adventures with a Grasshopper, a Ladybug, a Spider, and a centipede.

"But the peach ... ah, yes ... the peach was a soft, stealthy traveler, making no noise at all as it floated along. And several times during that long silent night ride high up over the middle of the ocean in the moonlight, James and his friends saw things that no one had ever seen before." -Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

Dahl once told a reviewer for New York Times Book Review: "Children are … highly critical. And they lose interest so quickly. You have to keep things ticking along. And if you think a child is getting bored, you must think up something that jolts it back. Something that tickles. You have to know what children like."

His children's fiction stories were known for its sudden turns into the fantastic, fast-moving pace, and its decidedly harsh treatment of any adults foolish enough to cause trouble for the young heroes and heroines. But his work did bring controversy with the book Matilda (1988) when he delighted his readers by taking vicious revenge on cruel adults who harmed children.

Roald Dahl died in Oxford, England, on November 23, 1999. His legacy includes many more titles, follow this link to view his prolific work and some suggested book titles.

Do you have a favorite?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Butternut Squash Chili with Beef

As summer changes to Fall, seek out new places that add peace and tranquility to your life.
Butternut Squash Chili with Beef
Cook's Notes:
A chili dish with a twist that uses butternut squash. As a timesaver look for prepackaged  butternut squash cubes in produce. 
I highly recommend making this chili a day ahead to maximize the flavors. Its a real winner with the addition of butternut squash sweetness. The chili has a bit of a kick with spices.
Serve chili with cornbread or bread sticks. Recipe adapted from Southern Living Our Best Stews and Soups 2014 and serves 6.

  • 1 LB. lean ground beef or 1 LB. beef stew meat
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (14.5 oz. ) cans Mexican style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can chili beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2-3/4 butternut squash, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • Cook ground beef, bell pepper, onions and garlic. Drain meat mixture and crumble ground beef. Add it back to soup pot. If using beef stew meat sear the meat cubes first, set aside and then saute pepper, onions and garlic. 
  • Add in stewed tomatoes, chili beans, broth, squash cubes, cumin and chili powder. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  • Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer about 50 minute or until squash is tender. Stir in corn last 15 minutes of cooking time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Lemon Blueberry Crumb Bars

One bite of these scrumptious lemon blueberry crumb bars will definitely put you in blueberry bliss.  
and make you wish blueberry picking season had not ended. I loved my July visit to 

Jake and Scout's Berry Farm, Nisswa,MN
Lemon Blueberry Crumb Bars 
Cook's Notes: A crisp, buttery cookie-like crumb crust sandwiched between a sweet, fresh juicy blueberry filling.  Add a cup of coffee or tea and you'll be in berry bliss. 
Recipe adapted from
For the Crumb
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 /2 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
For the Blueberry Filling
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries, at room temperature 
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch 
  • Juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons) 
  • 1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon. 
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 13 by 9-inch baking dish (also line with parchment and butter parchment if you'd like to lift them out easier), set aside. 
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, baking powder and salt. 
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg and vanilla until combine. 
  • Add egg mixture and cold butter cubes to flour mixture and using a fork or a pastry cutter, cut mixture together until it resembles coarse crumbs. Shortcut using a food processor, pulse a few times for coarse crumbs. .  
  • Press 1/2 of the mixture evenly into prepared baking dish.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and cornstarch, stir in lemon juice. 
  • Add blueberries then toss mixture to evenly coat, pour and spread coated blueberries evenly over crust in baking dish. 
  • Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over berry layer. 
  • Bake in preheated oven about 28- 30 minutes until top is golden brown.  

  • Allow to cool for about 20 - 30 minutes before cutting into squares. Store cooled bars in an airtight container in refrigerator (rewarm in microwave for 10 - 15 seconds if desired).

Monday, September 10, 2018

Chicken Cheese Quesadillas

Life isn't a matter of milestones, but of moments.
Rose Kennedy



Cook's Notes: A kid friendly and grown-up meal that can be customized to please anyone's palate. 
The following ingredients are needed to make 2- 6 inch quesadillas. Ingredients can easily be increased.  
  • 6 inch flour tortillas
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, diced 
  • 1 jar of thick, chunky pico de gallo or salsa
  • 1 package of shredded Mexican Four Cheeses
  • 1 small can of diced green chiles
Optional Add Ons or Add Ins-diced tomatoes, avocado slices, black bean (drained) corn, shredded lettuce, sour cream 
  • Mix chicken with 2-3 tablespoons salsa. Divide mixture between 2 flour tortillas.  Add a tablespoon of green chiles that have been drained and patted dry with a paper towel over each tortillas. Sprinkle each tortilla with cheese and top with other flour tortilla. 
  • Use a fry pan, griddle or panini maker that has been lightly greased  with olive oil. Cook tortillas on both sides until warmed and cheese melted.  
Blueberry Lemon Crumb Bars