Broiled Mahi Mahi with Orange Marmalade Glaze – No toast here

Broiled Mahi Mahi with Orange Marmalade Glaze with Grilled Pineapple BBQ Shrimp Kebobs over rice.

Orange Marmalade isn’t just for toast! In fact, next time you are at the grocery store, pick up a jar and you have an amazing base for many different sauces. Sweet and tangy, marmalade can be used for glazing ham, chicken, pork loin, and in this case, fish.

I used Mahi Mahi as It was a great price at my grocery store, but this would be great on salmon, tuna or cod. Simple to make, but so delicious and healthy. Make it a real “surf and surf” by making Pineapple BBQ Shrimp Kebobs. Serve fish and shrimp over rice and add some steamed vegetables for a meal you can feel good about serving to your family.

Recipe yields 4 4oz servings

Ingredients:

4 4oz filets of firm fish, thawed if bought frozen (Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Steelhead, or Cod)

Ingredients for glaze:
1/2 cup Orange Marmalade
4 TBS Soy sauce
3 TBS Rice Wine Vinegar
1 TBS red pepper flakes (omit if serving to young children)

Prepare glaze by combining ingredients into a small sauce pan, whisk until well mixed. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring often so not to burn. When mixture thickens, remove from stove and prepare fish for broiling.

Preheat broiler. Cover sheet pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Coat fish generously with Marmalade glaze and place in oven 6-8 inches from heat source. Broil 5-7 minutes (depending on thickness of fish) watch carefully so not to burn. Fish is done when it flakes easily. Do not overcook fish. Serve over rice with a steamed vegetable.

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Chipotle Chicken Chili

Smokey Chipotle Peppers add a kick to this cold weather chilli

Got chili on the mind? Seems that it’s been on the mind of my friends and coworkers lately. I’ve been getting many request for an exciting recipe for our favorite spicy stew. Truth is, I’ve never made chili without calling mom and having her remind me how she makes hers. A basic mixture of ground beef, tomatoes, beans and seasoning. This has always been a perfectly acceptable recipe, I am sure, similar to what many of us have grown up on, with some variations.

Oh how the variations differ! One friend of mine, Kerri, puts macaroni in her chili. She still makes it like her mom who had 8 children to feed (genius I say), and another co-blogger Frazzeledfoodie, has an amazing family recipe that is served over rice. Others enjoy vegetarian chilis, chicken chilis and I even saw a recipe for lamb chili! Seems we enjoy our bowls of rich and spicy goodness many different ways.

After scouring through my cookbooks, researching online and visiting many blogs, I found a recipe that had the flavors I was craving, and was also interesting as the peppers and onions were grilled before chopping, creating another element of flavor. I made my own adjustments, alas, a recipe worthy of sharing.

Note: I opted to grill my chicken breast first. It was coated with a bit of EVOO, cumin, salt and pepper. The Red sweet peppers, onion, jalapeno, and garlic cloves were grilled too before chopping up for chili. I simply cut into 2-3 inch pieces (leaving jalapeno and garlic whole), placed in a bowl, tossed with EVOO, salt and pepper and placed directly on a preheated grill. Keep the garlic on a piece of foil to avoid falling through the grates. Grill untill slightly charred. Cool all before chopping.

Ingredients for Chili
3 heaping cups of shredded chicken (prepared however you wish, I recommend grilling)
1 24 oz jar Great Northern Beans
1 Cup chopped onion
3/4 Cup Sweet Red Pepper
1/2-1 jalapeno (depending on size and personal taste)
2 Chipotle peppers from can with Adobo Sauce, seeded and diced
3 tsp of the Adobo Sauce the Chipotle Peppers are packed in
4-5 garlic cloves minced
3 Cups Chicken Broth
1 15 oz Can diced tomatoes
2 TBS Tomato paste (I finally bought one of those tubes so I didn’t have to open the whole can)
2 TBS Mexican Chili powder (or regular is fine)
2 TBS Cumin
1 TBS Oregano

Garnish Optional:Cilantro, Sour Cream, Diced Avocado

Combine all ingredients in a stock pot, bring to a low boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer at least an hour. The longer chili simmers, the better is always is. This recipe can easily be put into a crock pot on low and cooked all day or on high for shorter cooking time. As with all chili, it’s even better the next day.

Kielbasa and Sauerkraut, a Polish tale

A Polish Tradition, Kielbasa and Sauerkraut

In our town, Grand Rapids Michigan, we just had our yearly event Pulaski Days. It’s our polish holiday and quite frankly, one does not have to be Polish to appreciate the wonderful food and many halls available to quench one’s thirst. It is a much-anticipated weekend by Polish and non-Polish residents of our town. Our own Westside is where these jolly events take place with many authentic dishes including Kielbasa and Sauerkraut.

The Pulaski Days is an annual local three-day celebration of General Casimir Pulaski in Grand Rapids, Michigan where the normally private Polish Halls open their doors to the public. The celebration takes place on the first full weekend in October. Most of the halls involved (14 total in the Grand Rapids area) were established in the mid-to-late 19th century.

The Polish Halls use this event as a fund-raiser to maintain their non-profit organizations. The celebration of Polish heritage draws attendance from throughout Michigan as well as other areas of the country with populations of Polish origin.

Since I work every weekend, I missed out on the terrific food and have been craving some yummy polish kielbasa. So,on my way home from an appointment the other day, I pulled into a very well-known grocery store on the west side, Ralph’s. It’s not a fancy market, not at all. The neighborhood has seen better days, but they make their own kielbasa from an old family recipe that has been passed down through generations. There are many locals who will debate which of the old markets on the westside has the best recipe for Kielbasa. I wouldn’t dare disagree with any of them, but Ralph’s was right on my route home, and my obvious choice. I am not disappointed at all!

Though I have enjoyed in the past, simply browning my Kielbasa and adding the sauerkraut to a crock pot and cooking it slow for hours, my boys did not care for the sour flavors and left my kraut untouched. This time, I decided to make it a bit sweeter. To my surprise, even my little one ate his right up! Success!

Yields: 6 or more servings

Ingredients:
2 lbs fresh Kielbasa (I opted for the extra garlic flavor this time)
1 32 oz package sauerkraut drained and rinsed with cold water
1 whole onion sliced
EVOO to saute onion
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon allspice
Fresh Ground pepper to taste
Do not add salt to this recipe

Cut kielbasa into 3 inch pieces. Heat a large frying pan and 1 tsp of EVOO and add Kielbasa. Brown sausage about 3 minutes and turn to brown other side. It does not have to cook through as it will finish in roasting pan later. Remove sausage and set aside. Add more EVOO if needed to saute onions. Be sure not to burn. When onions are beginning to soften, add chicken broth, brown sugar, Dijon mustard and allspice. Whisk together until sugar and mustard are well incorporated. Bring to a boil. Add sauerkraut and kielbasa. Gently mix all ingredients, remove from heat and transfer to an electric roasting pan or crock pot. Heat at 250 degrees for at least 3 hours and up to 6. Serve together or as many of the Polish like to do, serve on a piece of rye bread with extra mustard.

Note: This may also be prepared in the oven at 250 degrees. Cover 9×13 pan tightly with foil, checking every couple of hours to be sure all of the liquid hasn’t evaporated.

Baked Ham with Honey Dijon Glaze

Baked Ham with Honey Dijon Glaze, just may replace your traditional Holiday Ham

It’s mid-October and already time to begin thinking about our holiday plans. Just yesterday, Dad and I sat in my dining room (he came to hang up a shelf, Thanks Dad!) enjoying his first cup of Chai with me. This spicy, warm and creamy tea seemed to inspire a discussion about the upcoming holidays. As we leisurely visited and sipped our Chai, I found that little voice in my head saying “Sheri, you need to try out some new recipes to treat the family this year”.

After all of these years, Mom has perfected the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. There is comfort and warmth when we enjoy these time-tested traditional family dishes. We work together in the kitchen as if performing a well-rehersed dance. I treasure these days, full of pride as my role in the kitchen has graduated from prepping the vegetables to a true partner, one to be consulted or trusted to actually make the mashed potatoes.

Okay, so back to the ham. My shopping place had a great price on bone-in smoked ham. I got a 6 1/2 lb piece for about $8.00. A steal, as I knew it would produce many meals for my family. I already planned to save the bone for Split Pea Soup and Ham for later. I quickly bought it and it sat in my fridge for 2 days, taunting me! See, I’ve never had to make the Ham, Mom always had that dish mastered, decorated with the pineapple, cherries and cloves and some years a honey-baked one that was presliced. Since this one was pre-cooked and simply only needed to be heated, I shouldn’t have been intimated, but a large piece of meat can do that!

I went to the trusty web for inspiration. What I found was a ton of sweet glazes using orange juice, pineapple juice, lots of brown sugar and often cloves. I do not prefer these super sweet sticky glazes, or sugary crusts. A bit discouraged, I was about to resolve to simply heating the smoked ham as was. Then, it dawned on me! A while ago, I made Honey Dijon Pork Chops that my kids and I raved over! I knew I would utilize many of the flavors I’d used with the pork chops as they were savory and had the perfect amount of sweetness; the ultimate combination. The result was, what is now, our favorite ham recipe. This perfectly juicy baked ham with its beautiful golden crust, is a blue-ribbon winner! Mom, we just may have a new Holiday Ham recipe.

So began the creation of what I consider to be possibly the very best ham I have ever eaten (sorry Mom!).

Recipe:
1 Bone in smoked ham already cooked
1 cup white wine or apple cider
1-2 cups chicken stock
Fresh herbs if available (I used a few sprigs of fresh thyme and sage still on stems)

Glaze ingredients:
1/2 cup Apple cider
1/3 Cup Dijon Mustard
1/3 Cup Honey

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.Unwrap ham, carefully trim off excess fat, taking care not to cut into meat. Make diagonal score marks into the tough outer layer of ham. In a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the ham and cover tightly, place on a rack (I have a rack about 1/2 high) in roasting pan. Pour in broth, wine (or cider) placing herbs around ham in liquid. Cover and bake.

Now it’s time for a bit of math. For every pound of ham, plan to bake 15 minutes. I had just over 6 pounds of ham, so I figured about 1 1/2 hour plus about 5 more.

After the ham was getting cozy in the oven, I leisurely began making the simple glaze. In a small sauce pan, whisk all ingredients together and heat over medium heat. Careful not to let it burn, stir occasionally and allow to gradually thicken. After about 20 minutes or so, it should have the consistency of tomato soup. If not, let cook down longer. Keep on low simmer stirring occasionally when desired results have been obtained.

During the last half hour of cooking time is when you will begin basting your ham with the glaze and a basting brush. Remove from oven, bast liberally, return to over with lid off. Repeat 2 more times every ten minutes.

Remove ham from oven, bast one more time and let sit on cutting board or serving plate for 10 minutes before carving. I’d had high hopes of using the juices in the bottom of the roasting pan for a sauce, but found it too salty from the ham. The wine and herbs perfume the ham perfectly and keep it so juicy it didn’t need a sauce anyways. Don’t forget to save the bone for Split Pea Soup and Ham for another day.

Coconut Curry Halibut with Mango Chutney

Coconut Curry Halibut, Mango Chutney and Pineapple Stir Fry

Got your attention! This dish sure got mine! It all started with a conversation with my mom as she was considering adding coconut to her fish that evening. At first, I dismissed her idea, then I realized if Coconut shrimp was so good, why not use it to make a delicious fish dish? Why not indeed!

As the idea’s formed, I began my research on the web, looking at hundreds of recipes. I alternated between my cupboards to see what ingredients I already had and taking notes in my book. A few hours later, I had a plan for an exciting dinner and a grocery list.

I’ve never made chutney before, and not even sure if I’ve ever tried it. However, a spicy and sweet Mango Chutney to compliment the Coconut Curry Halibut was beginning to make sense. I made the chutney first as it takes at least 30 minutes to cook down, and I knew the fish would be a quick cook. I made Pineapple Stir Fry to complete this healthy and exotic meal that was pleasing to the eye and the taste buds.

Recipe yields approximately 3 cups cooked

Ingredients for Chutney
1 TBS EVOO (or other mild oil)
2 TBS fresh ginger diced
1 jalapeno seeded, pith removed and diced
1 medium red onion chopped (about 1 cup)
2 ripe but still firm Mangos, peeled and roughly chopped (about 2 cups total)
1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup each of Orange juice and pineapple juice equaling 1 cup (or just orange or pineapple to total 1 cup liquid)
2 TBS Curry powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt

In a medium sauce pan, heat EVOO on med high heat. Add ginger stirring frequently to flavor the oil. After about 1 minute, add jalapeno and saute 1 minute more. Add onion and sweat until it becomes tender. Add Mangos. In a small bowl, combine Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 cup of juice, sugar, salt and curry powder. Add to Mango mixture, bring to a low boil for about 30-45 minutes stirring frequently. When mixture begins to thicken, mash with a potato masher a few times still leaving chutney chunky. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve with Coconut Curry fish.

Ingredients for fish:
4 Halibut filets or other fish of choice (about 4-5 oz each)
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 1/2 cup flour
2 TBS Curry powder
1 TBS ground ginger
1 tsp each fresh ground salt and pepper
2 egg whites plus a splash of water mixed

Preheat oven to 350. Rinse and dry fish. Set up your coating station, 2 plates and 1 shallow bowl. On one plate combine flour, Curry, Ginger salt and pepper. In the shallow bowl, mix 2 egg whites and enough water to thin eggs a little. On the 2nd plate, place the coconut. First coat fillet with flour mixture, then egg mixture, and finally pressing gently both sides with the coconut. Repeat with remaining fillets. Place coated fillets on a baking sheet and bake about 17 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes easily. Serve with Mango Chutney.

Pineapple Stir Fry

Pineapple, jalapeno, cashews and currants make for an exciting Vegan meal or side dish. I served this when I was looking for something to compliment my Coconut Curry Halibut and Mango Chutney, what a compliment it was! This recipe is amazingly healthy, low in fat and cholesterol, full of sweet and savory flavors with a touch of heat from the jalapeno. There are quite a few Pineapple Stir Fry recipes out there, this is my own combination of flavors that work perfectly with the Coconut Curry Talibut and Mango Chutney, or simply by itself – I can attest to this as I am enjoying a bowl of it for breakfast while I write my blog!

Yields: About 5-6 cups, serving portions vary if using as a side dish or a meal. Leftovers reheat extremely well and are fantastic for lunch (or breakfast) the next day.

Ingredients
4 Cups cooked Jasmine rice (preferably made 2-3 days ahead of time, but see note at end for a tip if making the rice that day.
1 TBS high heat cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 jalapeno seeded, pith removed and finely diced (optional, omit if you do not want the heat)
1 cup red sweet pepper cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 green onions sliced on the bias, reserving the tender green ends to add at the end of dish.
1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
1 large carrot shredded
1 can (about 20 oz) pineapple tidbits drained, reserving juice
1 cup cashews (unsalted or I did use ones with sea salt with great results)
1/2 cup currants (or raisins)
Sauce:
2 TBS low sodium Soy Sauce
3 TBS reserved pineapple juice
1 1/2 tsp curry powder

Gather all ingredients and have ready to add to wok, as cooking time is very quick. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, pineapple juice and curry powder, set aside.

Heat wok and oil until very hot. Add jalapeno fry for about 30 seconds while constantly stirring careful not to burn. Add sweet red peppers and fry for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, add scallions (the white part) peas and carrots. After a minute, begin to add pineapple, cashews and currants. Keep mixture moving until hot. Add rice and fry for about 3-4 minutes. Add sauce, mix, remove from heat toss in the green ends of the onions and serve.

Tip: If you do not have leftover rice to use that has been refrigerated for 2-3 days, make rice as directed and spread on a large baking sheet and place in freezer. This will help it to cool and remove some of the moisture. I find that after 15 minutes or so, I will mix the rice around and break it up with my hands and return to freezer for another 15 minutes. Remove before beginning to make recipe and allow to reach room temperature. I’ve used this method a few times now and it works well.

Split Pea Soup with Ham – The way Grandma Would Make it if she had access to Ma’s Garden

Get out the stock pot, as soup season has begun!

We love our homemade soup! With all of its liquid goodness, my boys and I enjoy a big bowl of homemade soup and crusty bread. The season officially begins when I pull out my giant stockpot and make a batch of Split Pea Soup with Ham. I crave it all spring and summer, but with the warmer weather, it’s just not the same. Serve this with a thick piece of fresh baked Free Form Artisan Bread.

Although there are many “quick” soup recipes and crock pot recipes, I am a true believer, that soup must be given the love and respect of simmering for many hours. This is an endeavor that takes love and patience. Soup days are also days I plan other home projects, such as laundry, paper work, blogging and phone calls. One does not have to be a slave to the stove as much as you have to visit it periodically to stir, taste, and occasionally add an ingredient. I consider soup to be the perfect food. It usually has a protein, carb, veggies and herbs. It’s everything good in one pot, and how I trick the boys (and myself) to eat vegetables they may not try otherwise.

Earlier in the week, I made a Baked Honey Dijon Ham with the bone in. I removed most of the leftover ham from the bone, leaving some meat around it, put into a large plastic bag to use later. I don’t always have a ham bone like this to make my soup, so often I will purchase ham shanks to use instead. Here it is, My Spilt Pea soup with Ham that I’ve made more than any other recipe as it’s simply a family favorite.

Recipe yeilds…lot’s of soup

Ingredients
2 1-lb bags of dried split peas, sorted and rinsed
1 ham bone (from 5-7 lb ham with some meat still intact) or 2-3 lbs of ham shanks.
2 quarts of Chicken broth (I used 1 quart of store-bought and 1 quart of homemade I had defrosted from the freezer)
Water (as needed throughout)
2 stalks celery sliced
1 large onion diced (I used a Vidalia)
2 TBS garlic finely diced
3 bay leaves (remove before serving)
2 large carrots quartered and sliced
3 TBS fresh herbs (I used a combination of Thyme and Sage, but savory and parsley are good too)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Sea Salt to taste
2-3 chicken bullion cubes (optional)

After you’ve sorted out your peas (I pour them on a large baking sheet so I can easily pick out any unwanted discolored ones) rinse well under cold water in a colander and pour into large stock pot. Cover with water (about 1 inch above the peas) and bring to a boil for 2 minutes, turn off heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour. This is preparing the peas. There is also an overnight option, but I just prefer to use this method.

After an hour has passed, pour in broth and add ham bone (or shanks). All of the peas and bones should be covered well with liquid. If needed, add water (I often have to add some water throughout cooking process). On high heat, bring to a soft boil. Meanwhile, begin chopping onions, celery and garlic. Add to soup and bring down temp. to a high simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

After simmering for about an hour, add carrots and water if needed. Simmer another 45 minutes still stirring occasionally. Then, add fresh-cut herbs, simmer another 15 minutes or so. Remove ham bone or shanks with thongs and let cool on cutting board until able to handle. Remove meat and cut into little pieces. This process can be a bit tedious, but is worth it for the final result. Return meat to soup. This is when you begin tasting and adding salt and pepper to taste. Carefull with the salt as the ham adds it own, so add slowly, taste and adjust. Personally, I have been known to throw in a couple of chicken bullion cubes in place of the salt as it adds extra flavor and contains salt. Keep adding water as the peas absorb liquid and it evaporates during the process.

Soup is very forgiving and gets better the longer it simmers. Like a tomato sauce, it only gets better the next day. Freeze leftovers in individual servings for quick defrosting another day as a quick hearty lunch or dinner.

If you happen to have a dog, or your neighbor has a canine friend, send the bone for a special treat!

Free Form Artisan Bread

Crusty outside with a soft and chewy center

Having never made fresh bread unless it was from a frozen loaf from the grocery store or a boxed mix in my bread machine, I have to admit, I was intimidated. Motivated by a good friend Nancy who encouraged me to try this recipe as she claimed it was easy enough. The picture of her finished bread looked so amazing that I was determined to give it a whirl.

A quick look at the ingredients left me in disbelief, so few, could this really be as good as it looks? I trust my friend as she definitely knows her way around the kitchen. “B” day arrived, as I now call my baking day. I reread the recipe and even consult my friend via Facebook to clarify the directions and perhaps a bit of encouragement. I suddenly realize I am scared of a little yeast and water. See, I really don’t bake, I cook. Cooking meals and baking are two different worlds as I see it. I happened to be out of my comfort zone here. I love Artisan Bread from my local bakery so much and have paid almost $6.00 for a loaf to go with my homemade soups, so the idea of being able to make my own fresh at home, for a fraction of the cost pushes me forward.

Later in the evening, after following all of the directions, I have 2 loaves of amazing bread to go with the Spilt Pea Soup and Ham I made the day before. I couldn’t believe I did it! the recipe is really simple after doing it once (even for me) The real beauty of this recipe is that it makes about 4 – 1lb loaves and the dough stays good in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It gets better as it hangs out there! Genius! I will never buy from the bakery again as I now have this wonderful recipe and I hope you try it too!

Here is the recipe I received from my friend Nancy who got it from a friend…..A very special Thank You for sharing your recipe and once again, teaching me!

For the dough:

3 cups lukewarm water
1.5 Tablespoons granulated yeast
1.5 Tablespoons kosher or other course salt
6.5 cups white all-purpose flour
cornmeal

Mix water, yeast and salt in a large container no smaller than 5 quarts. It should have a lid but not an airtight lid. I used a large bowl and loosely covered with plastic wrap.

Measure your flour using a spoon to scoop and sweep method so that the flour is not compacted.

Add the flour all at once but do not knead. Just stir so that there aren’t any pockets of flour. The dough will be moist…cover and leave at room temperature or until it has doubled.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

The dough may now be used or left in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The longer it sits in the fridge the more the texture and flavour improves. This quantity of dough makes 4 good size loaves. Or make smaller loaves adjusting cooking time.

Baking Day:

Artisan Bread is crusty and usually free form (no pans). Sprinkle the surface of the dough with a little flour and pull up and with a serrated knife, cut off 1 ball the size of a grapefruit. This should weigh about 1 pound. Lightly dust the ball with flour so it won’t stick to the work surface. Gently stretch the dough out and under so that you have a smooth ball with a collection of “edges” at the bottom. Sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal and place the dough on the peel. I do not have a pizza peel so just used my large cutting board. Allow to rest for 40 minutes at room temperature. After 20 minutes, place a baking stone on rack in oven ( I simply used my baking sheet) and on any rack which will not interfere with the baking process, place an empty broiler pan (I don’t have a broiler pan so used an 8×13 cake pan and placed on the very bottom rack). Preheat the oven to 450F Dust the top of the loaf with flour (or cornmeal if desired) and with a serrated knife slash the top of the loaf. Quickly slide dough onto hot baking stone (or baking sheet). Also quickly pour 1-2cups of water (I definitely used 2 cups) into the heated broiling pan. This produces steam. Quickly close the oven door. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. Cool on a cooling rack.

This recipe makes a perfectly crusty and chewy bread! Now that I’ve made this recipe, I am going to experiment with flavoring the bread with spinach, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes….you get the picture. I encourage you to try this recipe and would love to hear your feedback! Happy Cookin!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

With their beautiful presentation, these Acorn squash are hearty enough to be a meal or an impressive side dish.

As the weather begins to cool and the leaves start to turn to their golds and reds, I am so happy to change my recipes from salsa’s and summer salads to the flavors of Autumn. Rich and fragrant foods now begin to emerge from my kitchen, my much ignored oven has once again become a comforting source of heat as the chilly breezes begin to wash around us. Oh the smell of Fall in Michigan. Now, the Acorn Squash are ready in Ma’s garden and she was happy to share.

During her visit the other day, my mom confided to me that she just cannot get Dad interested in eating squash. I’ve been thinking about how to make this perfect food, full of nutritional goodness more appealing to the “non-squash lovers”. I knew I wanted to stuff these naturally pretty packages. My first attempt, was okay, but not recipe worthy. After my second attempt, I knew I had a winner!

Apples, dried cranberries, pecans, fresh sage and thyme are the stars of this dish. Sweet and savory, it’s the perfect side dish or quite frankly, a meal in itself! I hope this can change the opinions of non-squash fans, but it will surely make lovers of our fall produce very happy!

Recipe yields 4 small squash

Ingredients:

4 Small Acorn Squash (about 4-inches in diameter) tops cut off and seeds scooped out.
1 Package Stuffing mix any flavor
1/4 lb butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
1 3/4 cup Apple Cider
1/2 Cup roughly chopped Pecans
1 stalk celery sliced thinly
1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup peeled and diced apple ( I recommend Granny smith or other tart apple)
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries (golden raisins could be substituted)
1 Heaping TBS fresh chopped Sage
1 Heaping TBS fresh Thyme removed from woody stems
1 Heaping TBS fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp Cinnamon
Salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops of squash off, as if cutting the top of a pumpkin you will be carving, reserve tops. Slice bottom of squash if needed to let it set upright, careful not to cut too deep into cavity, leaving a hole. If this does happen, remove a bit of flesh from the top to fill the bottom. Lightly salt the inside of the squash. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, saute in 2 TBS of butter your onions and celery until just beginning to soften. Melt the remaining butter and add Apple cider until cider is warm and butter is melted. Add dried cranberries, diced apples, cinnamon, and fresh herbs. Mix gently, contents of stuffing mix and pecans. When mixture is completely coated, scoop into squash with a spoon. Mixture can be gently packed in to add more. Stuff squash about 1/2 inch over the top and place the tops of the squash to cover stuffing. There should be a small space between the bottom and top of squash exposing a small amount of the stuffing mixture. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until squash is tender.
Remove from oven, let cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy!

Fishwich with Lemon Caper Sauce – Not your Typical Catch of the Day

4 fillets of Sea Star Cod (or other mild whitefish) about 4 oz each
2 TBS Seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay)
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cup Panco Bread Crumbs (japanese bread crumbs)
3 eggs
splash milk (to thin out egg mixture)
EVOO (such as Mezzetta)
Arugula (about 2 cups loosely packed)
4 kaiser buns or buns of your choice
Roasted Sweet Red Peppers from a jar, enough to top 4 sandwiches (Mezzetta is the brand I used)

Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
3 TBS Non-Pareil Capers (such as Mezzetta brand) lightly chopped
Zest and Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 TBS fresh Dill (use dried if fresh is not available)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients for sauce in a small bowl, cover and chill while preparing fish.

Set up your dredging station. 1 shallow bowl with beaten eggs and milk, one bowl or plate with just flour, and one with just Panco bread crumbs. Rinse and pat dry with paper towel the 4 fish fillets. Sprinkle with Seafood seasoning on both sides and lightly coat with flour. Shake off excess. Quickly dredge in egg mixture then in the Panco bread crumbs, set aside on a plate and repeat until all of the fillets are coated.

Heat enough EVOO in a large heavy frying pan to fry fish (about 1 cup depending size of pan). When oil is hot, test by tossing a pinch of flour in oil, if it sizzles, it’s ready. Carefully place fish in pan and fry until it is a golden brown, turn and finish the other side (about 3-4 minutes each side depending on how thick your fish is). When fish is cooked, remove from pan and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Meanwhile, begin assembling your sandwiches. Spread a layer of Lemon Caper Sauce on both the top and bottom buns, place a layer of arugula on the bottom buns, then fish, then a layer of Roasted Sweet Red Pepper and top with the other half of bun. Viola! A fishwich full of flavor and style.