Parmesan Butternut Squash Au Gratin

An easy, cheesy butternut squash side dish… with an impressive presentation! The best new Thanksgiving side dish. :)

Parmesan Butternut Squash Au Gratin | thepajamachef.com #Thanksgiving

If you make ONE new Thanksgiving side dish this year, this totally should be the one! It is absolutely perfect, and a great way to introduce butternut squash to squash skeptics. I mean, isn’t it gorgeous… golden and beautiful?!? One of the fun things about butternut squash is it’s shape. It’s just so BIG for a vegetable! It’s always a shame to take the fun shape and puree it up into soup, mac and cheese, etc. Don’t get me wrong, those are delicious ways to enjoy this sweet ‘n nutty squash. But I always like to do something different! And this au gratin starring butternut squash is definitely different. Ben looked a picture and asked if it was potatoes. No, no, it’s not. But that doesn’t mean it’s not amazing!

Parmesan Butternut Squash Au Gratin | thepajamachef.com #Thanksgiving

With this Parmesan Butternut Squash Au Gratin you’ve got SO many layers of flavor. Sweet squash, garlic butter, crisp bread crumbs, Parmesan, and fresh herbs. Ohhh yum. It’s just so good. I’m not sure how anyone could resist. I couldn’t keep my fork outta the serving dish!

Parmesan Butternut Squash Au Gratin | thepajamachef.com #Thanksgiving

It’s the kind of side that’s perfect on its own–hearty, cheesy, and delicious with the perfect balance of flavors. However, I’m sitting here on my couch dreaming of ways to, shall we say, enhance the amazingness for Thanksgiving day. Isn’t Thanksgiving about going all over the top? Adding some chopped bacon to the topping, layering butternut squash with sliced apples, or even drizzling the whole dish with some pesto just sounds wonderful to me! But even without those enhancements, this butternut squash dish is such a winner! Hope it brings joy to your table this year. So sorry, so cheesy. :)

Parmesan Butternut Squash Au Gratin | thepajamachef.com #Thanksgiving

one year ago: Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
two years ago: Pork, Apple, and Ginger Stir Fry
three years ago: Thai Seared Shrimp with Tomato, Basil, and Coconut
four years ago: Stovetop Mac & Cheese with Broccoli

Parmesan-Butternut Squash Au Gratin

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 75 minutes
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from Betty Crocker

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash [about 2 1/2 pounds]
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped herbs – like oregano or parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a large baking dish [9×13 inch pan, or a 10 inch round baking dish] with cooking spray.

Poke butternut squash all over with a fork, then microwave for about 2 minutes. Remove and cool for a few minutes before peeling. This makes it much easier to peel and slice the squash. Peel butternut squash, then halve and deseed. Slice squash into 1/2 inch thick slices, then arrange in bottom of baking dish, overlapping as necessary.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Turn to low and add garlic. Stir constantly as butter cooks for 2-3 minutes. Don’t brown the butter, just cook until garlic softens.

In a small bowl, stir together panko, Parmesan, pepper, and 1 tablespoon garlic butter. Brush  remaining garlic butter over squash, then sprinkle with panko mixture.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until squash is cooked through. Turn oven up to 425 degrees F and cook for another 5 minutes or so, or until topping turns golden brown. Top with herbs before serving.

Cranberry Mint Relish + What To Do With All That Mint

A refreshing take on a traditional cranberry relish!

Cranberry Mint Relish + Ideas for Preserving Fresh Mint | thepajamachef.com

My favorite part of any holiday meal is the cranberry sauce. I’m picky about it though–it can’t be canned, and it can’t have nuts. I used to be a purist and only liked the traditional cranberry orange relish. But these gingered cranberry-apricot sauce and cranberry-pineapple sauce have opened up the doors for some experimentation. So this weekend, when I had a bag of cranberries in one hand and a ginormously huge mint plant in the other that had to be used up before the weather goes whacko this week, I thought, what the heck, and threw some mint in the mix. And you know what? It was pretty awesome. Adding mint to traditional cranberry relish seems pretty novel [but I’m sure others have done it] and it lends a little pop to this sweet-tart side dish. You should totally try it this fall! And it only takes a few minutes to make so you’ve got nothing to lose. :)

Cranberry Mint Relish + Ideas for Preserving Fresh Mint | thepajamachef.comAs for all the rest of that mint plant… quite a bit went into that jar of mint sugar on the left and those jars of mint extract on the right. There are tons of tutorials online for both delicacies, but I just layered fresh mint with sugar in one jar and have been shaking it once a day since Sunday. In about a week it’s supposed to be ready to enjoy. I can’t wait! And to make the mint extract I added vodka [eeeekkkkk] to mint that had been gently mashed in a mason jar. There’s a technical term for “mashed” but it’s escaping me at the moment. :) Easy easy! My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I told him I needed some cheap alcohol for cooking. Hahaha. COOKING not drinking, haha don’t worry. That’s how you do things in homemade-everything-land. We’ll see how they turn out. I’ll have to give you guys an update, k? In the meantime, this cranberry mint relish is FAB so don’t wait til Thanksgiving to enjoy. I can’t wait to taste it on turkey!

one year ago: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Sauce
two years ago: Carnitas
three years ago: Best Pancakes Ever
four years ago: Pumpkin French Toast Sandwich

Cranberry Mint Relish

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 5 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries, washed and dried
  • 1 orange, scrubbed clean and cut into eighths
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar

Directions:

Place cranberries, orange, mint, and 1/4 cup sugar in food processor. Pulse until processed to desired consistency. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to set flavors.

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice

Flavorful Asian turkey meatballs served over carrot rice is an awesome, easy 30 minute weeknight dinner. Kids love it too!

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice | thepajamachef.comThis is one of our absolute favorite dinners. I’ve made it more times than I can count, but it’s never appeared on the blog because I never get a photo before it’s gone-zo. It’s pretty simple, as most meatball dinners are, but it feels so special because of the Asian flavors and wonderful aromatic ingredients in the dish. The meatballs are zingy with just a hint of spice. If spice isn’t your thing, feel free to leave out the Sriracha or use less. Don’t be afraid of the fish sauce though–a little goes a long way to making the meatballs extra tasty! Just don’t smell it. Take my word on that one. Can you say gross?! :)

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice | thepajamachef.com

One of the best things about this dinner is that it’s SO adaptable. Normally I make the meatballs with ground turkey, but if that’s not your thing, use pork or chicken or a combination. I also love that the rice isn’t boring. I stir carrots and cilantro [or Thai basil] in for some extra flavor and texture. To make this a 30 minute meal, using white rice is key… but if you have more time, brown rice would work too. Sometimes I make the rice with another liquid besides water, like chicken broth or coconut milk, for a lil extra something. But even if you just make the rice plain, it’s still amazing!

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice | thepajamachef.comI love to serve this dinner with steamed broccoli or edamame. It’s the perfect meal to take to a family with a new baby. I’ve done that so many times and have gotten rave reviews from everyone, including the kiddos! Just don’t forget the lime wedges. A squeeze of lime over the whole meal is essential! Enjoy!

two years ago: Maple Cornmeal Drop Biscuits
three years ago: Garlicky Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil
four years ago: Pillow Cookies

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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from Everyday Food Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups liquid for cooking rice – like water, chicken broth, or coconut milk
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/3 cup cilantro or Thai basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound ground turkey [pork works too!]
  • 2 green onions, green and white parts chopped and divided
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 3 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger, optional
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • lime wedges, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups water [or coconut milk or chicken broth for extra flavor] and rice. Bring to a boil, stir, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until rice is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and top with carrot and cilantro. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes, then stir to mix all ingredients and fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then add turkey, white parts of the green onions, cilantro, fish sauce, Sriracha, sugar, garlic, and ginger if using. Gently stir to combine, then shape into 24 small meatballs.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Work in batches to brown meatballs on all sides, then transfer to a large baking dish to cook for 10 more minutes in the oven, or until cooked through. Serve meatballs over rice with green onions and lime wedges.

Mystery Dish: Kale Salad with Sesame-Lime Dressing

Kale salad is made over with a tangy and nutty sesame-lime dressing! 

Kale Salad with Sesame-Lime Dressing | thepajamachef.com #MysteryDish

Welcome to another edition of Mystery Dish! This month, Zainab from Blahnik Baker was our host and she gave us a fabulous list to make one great dish with, including: sesame seeds, green chiles, green tea/matcha powder, cardamom, ginger, feta, lamb, pinto beans, white wine, prickly pear cactus, and apples. We were supposed to use three ingredients, and I immediately thought of a few directions I could go: an apple dessert, a Mexican dish, or something Asian-y. To me, making an apple dessert [which I’d make anyway countless times this fall] was the easy way out. So was Mexican. That left Asian. What to make, what to make. OH! Sesame. I had sesame seeds and sesame oil… and somehow made an awesome awesome kale salad that has been a constant in our fridge for the past three weeks. Seriously!

Kale Salad with Sesame-Lime Dressing | thepajamachef.com #MysteryDish

 

I would say that the dressing in all its nutty sesame, citrusy tart lime, intense fresh ginger, and salty soy is the best part of the salad. But then I’d be doing a disservice to the crunchy toasted sesame seeds [I used white AND black] and the dried sweet apples. That’d be so sad. This salad keeps well in the fridge over the course of the week. The dressing softens the kale more and more over time, and is just so fragrant and flavorful! One might think that if you’re making the salad ahead of time it would be better to add the sesame seeds and dried apples just before serving. But surprisingly the sesame seeds stay nice ‘n crisp, and the apples take on a great salty-sweet flavor once they’ve bathed in the dressing for a day or so. Obviously the ultimate choice is up to you–assuming the salad lasts long enough for leftovers–but I highly recommend just tossing it all together and enjoying dish after dish in your lunch all week long.

Kale Salad with Sesame-Lime Dressing | thepajamachef.com #MysteryDish

I’ve never had a salad I’ve had to fight Ben for…this is a first. I mean, he likes salad and kale but this kale salad is out of this world amazing! Enjoy!!

one year ago: Maple Apple Pie-Crisp with Cheddar Crust and Bacon Crumb Topping
two years ago: 1970s Style Tacos

four years ago: Sweet and Spicy Blueberry Pork

Kale Salad with Sesame-Lime Dressing

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 15 minutes
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dressing recipe from freshncrunchy

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • juice of 1 lime [approximately 1/4 cup]
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 cup dried apples, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Directions:

Wash kale, then remove thick stems and thinly slice leaves into ribbons. Dry with a salad spinner or a kitchen towel. Place in a large bowl.

In a measuring cup, combine extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup, and ginger. Whisk to combine, then pour half the dressing over the kale. Toss together with salad tongs or your hands, and add as much of the remaining dressing as desired. For extra tender kale, massage dressing into the kale with your hands for a few minutes. Allow salad to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving to soften. Top with chopped apples.

Place sesame seeds in a cold skillet. Set on stovetop over medium heat, and toast for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring often. Add sesame seeds to kale salad before serving.

September Mystery Dish | t hepajamachef.com
Come check out what else we made this month!

  1. Green Chile Chicken Soup – Chez CateyLou
  2. Crockpot Chicken Chilli Stew – Yummy Healthy Easy
  3. Spiced Apple Crisp – I Want Crazy
  4. Kale Salad with Sesame-Lime Dressing – The Pajama Chef
  5. Spiced Mini Skillet Apple Crisp – Culinary Couture
  6. Pan Seared Pork Chops with Spicy Apple Chutney – Flavor the Moments
  7. Matcha Swirl Cheesecake – Baking a Moment
  8. Green Chile Cheese Pinwheels – I Dig Pinterest.
  9. Baked Apple Donuts with Cardamom Cream Cheese Glaze – Joyful Healthy Easy
  10. Vegan Gluten-Free Ginger Walnut Apple Pie Bars – The Sweet-Tooth Life
  11. Apple Feta Salad with Toasted Sesame Seeds – The Well Floured Kitchen
  12. Apple Cardamon Crisp – Blahnik Baker

#10DaysofTailgate: Grilled Green Beans, Mushrooms, and Duck Bacon

Green beans tossed on the grill with mushrooms and duck bacon get toasty and roasty. They are so delicious!

Grilled Green Beans, Mushrooms, and Duck Bacon | thepajamachef.com #10DaysofTailgate

This week I’m sharing quite a few tailgate recipes with some blogging friends as part of #10DaysofTailgate. Camilla did a great job organizing this event and wrangled 14 great giveaways for you guys! So check out the giveaway here. :)

#10DaysofTailgate Sponsors

Green beans are one vegetable that Ben and I both LOVE so we have them as a dinner side pretty often. Usually I just steam them on the stove. Occasionally I toss them in the oven to roast with some sweet potatoes, but that’s usually the extent of my green bean repertoire. Not anymore! Now, I’m gonna be grilling them up every chance I get! Especially when I have mushrooms and duck bacon laying around. Mmmm! You guys… that was just the most amazing combo ever! These veggies grilled up roasty and sweet, caramelized from the grill… and the salt of the bacon just made that taste even better! I know green beans and bacon are a thing, but I hadn’t had it very often so it was a new flavor combo for me. And the fact that it was DUCK bacon took this side over the top. Before #10DaysofTailgate duck bacon was pretty unfamiliar to me. Maple Leaf Farms [out of Indiana–woohoo!] is one of our generous sponsors and sent the team ground duck, duck bacon, and duck fat to try out. I was surprised at how tender and flavorful the bacon was. It definitely had a different flavor than regular bacon, but it wasn’t gamey at all–sort of similar to turkey bacon but with more oomph. The fact that it’s applewood smoked probably helped. :) I could have made an entire meal of these veggies! But I also had some beef skewers [this awesome recipe is coming soon!] to enjoy on the side. Rough life, huh?

Grilled Green Beans, Mushrooms, and Duck Bacon | thepajamachef.com #10DaysofTailgate

You might notice that I didn’t just throw the veggies on the grill. That’s my handy new stainless grilling skillet thanks to another #10DaysofTailgate sponsor, Mr. Bar-B-Q! Before this, our grilling was pretty frills-free… just us and our grill. The grilling skillet allows for a little more control of things, but you could certainly make this recipe sans skillet by wrapping everything up in a foil packet. I gotta admit that having some grilling tools is pretty fun though! I’m sure glad that grilling season in Tennessee lasts well into the fall so we can have more tasty outdoors with my new toys. If you want to check out our generous sponsors on their social media so you can get more info on their products here’s all the info you need: Maple Leaf Farms is on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, and you can find Mr. Bar-B-Q on Twitter and Facebook too. Thank you both so much for your generosity! But they also have great prizes in our giveaway so be sure to go enter NOW! :)

Grilled Green Beans, Mushrooms, and Duck Bacon | thepajamachef.com #10DaysofTailgateI just loved these veggies and duck bacon! Wish I had some to enjoy right now…even though it’s 8 am! :)

Grilled Green Beans, Mushrooms, and Duck Bacon

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print
Ingredients:

  • 1 pound green beans, washed, dried, & trimmed
  • 4 ounces Baby Bella Mushrooms, cleaned & sliced into large pieces
  • 4 slices duck bacon [from Maple Leaf Farms], sliced into eighths
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt

Directions: Add green beans, mushrooms, and bacon to a mesh grilling basket. Season as desired–I always use a lot of pepper and very little salt. Grill over indirect heat for 20 minutes, shaking every 5 minutes or so, or until bacon is fully cooked. If you don’t have a grilling basket, you can wrap ingredients in foil and grill in a foil packet. It won’t be exactly the same but the smoky flavors will still shine through.

Here’s what everyone brought to the table today…

Starters
Cheesy Maple Leaf Farm Duck Bacon Oven Chips by Making Miracles
Mango-Mustard Crock Pot Wings by Curious Cuisiniere
Cheesy Pulled Pork Egg Rolls by From Gate to Plate
Herbed Deviled Eggs by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Sips
Amaretto Spiced Apple Cider by The Spiffy Cookie

Dips
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus by Debbi Does Dinner Healthy

Mains
Green and Gold Grilled Chicken (Green Curry and Pineapple) by Cheese Curd In Paradise
Turducken Meatballs by Miss Laura’s Kitchen
Meaty “Beast Mode” Baked Beans by OnTheMove-In the Galley
Chicken Apple Bratwurst Burgers by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures

Sides
Grilled Green Beans, Mushrooms, and Duck Bacon
 by The Pajama Chef

Disclosure: I received a complementary stainless grilling skillet from Mr. Bar-B-Q and complementary duck bacon, ground duck, and duck fat from Maple Leaf Farms as part of my participation in #10DaysofTailgate. I was not compensated in any way–for my time, to create a recipe, or to publish positive comments. I was not required to use these products as part of my recipe. My opinions are my own.