Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Caramelized Butternut Squash

Caramelized Butternut Squash
Apparently computers don't like to be dropped on the floor.  Twice.  Once by David.  A month later by me.  We sound like a pair of butter fingers. 

What a pair we make - 21 years on Thursday.  They say married couples start to look and dress and sound and do things alike.  Well, that doesn't hold true for cooking alike.  David and I had a bake off of butternut squash.  Mine, of course, was covered in butter and brown sugar.  His was savory with olive oil and a ton of other spices.  Guess which recipe won the family taste test 4:1?  Butter and brown sugar always win (it also doesn't hurt to have Barefoot Contessa on your side).  

  • 2 medium butternut squash (4-5 pounds total) - you can also purchase already cubed butternut squash
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400.

Cut off and discard the ends of each butternut squash. Peel the squash, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch cubes and place them on a baking sheet. Add the melted butter, brown sugar, and salt. Toss all the ingredients together and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize. While roasting, turn the squash a few times with a spatula, to be sure it browns evenly. Taste for seasonings and serve hot (it also tastes good the next day mixed with pasta and cubed, grilled chicken).

Happy Anniversary Big D!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Super Bowl of Dips

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Perfect.  Is there such a thing?  (Anyone who scored a 1600 on the SAT need not reply.) defines it as “conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type” and “excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement.”  This actually makes me feel better and liberated because OMG, who is all of that?  I will admit, I strive for perfection and then I wonder why I am disappointed or feel like I am banging my head against a wall.  A house project that is not quite right; a class and students (and teacher) that haven’t found their rhythm; a work project and client (and consultant) that aren’t quite in sync.  Yet.  That’s the perfectionist in me – still trying, still fighting, still striving, still trying to get in control (still banging my head against a wall). 

Do you think the players in the Super Bowl strive for perfection?  Or is “their best” and “just good enough” acceptable?  Do you know what is perfect with a chip?  A dip.  Do you know what is best eaten while watching the Super Bowl?  A dip.  Do you know what is good enough to eat on days other than the Super Bowl?  A dip.

Here are some of my favorite dips.  They are perfect if you follow the recipes exactly.  Haha.
Shrimp Ceviche Cocktail

Happy birthday (early) Claire!  May it be your best one yet!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Brownie Cookies

Brownie Cookies
If you believe that chocolate makes the world go round then we can be friends.  There is not much that chocolate cannot solve or heal or fix.  Maybe I should send some to Washington.  

I found this recipe in my Uncle Willy’s files (do you see a trend here?).  The kids gravitated towards the name.  The batter is really thick like brownies and can be molded into little balls before baking if you like a perfect little round cookie.  And life is pretty close to perfect when you eat chocolate so, but do as you please.  They taste good either way.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine flour, soda and salt.  Melt butter in a large saucepan and remove from heat.  In a mixing bowl, place the cocoa powder and sugars, pour melted butter in, and mix.  Add yogurt and vanilla, continue mixing to combine.  Add flour mixture and combine until fully incorporated. 

Spoon mixture onto prepared cookie sheets (I made cookies using both a ½ tablespoon and a 1 tablespoon size spoon).  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (for a ½ T size cookie – bake for longer if you make a larger cookie).  Cool on sheets for 2 minutes or until firm.  Remove and cool completely on wire racks.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Chicken Strudel

Chicken Strudel
Hold your horses.  Stop the presses.  Blow me over with a feather.  H*** has frozen over. Elizabeth tasted a new dish (with both chicken and spinach) that was placed in front of her and said “that is good!”  I think there was even an exclamation point in her voice.  

I tried to make this dish years ago.  Don’t think it was received with the same results.  But I found this recipe listed in Uncle Willy’s binder so I decided to try it again.  Warning: there is a pain in the rump factor of about a 7.  Working with phyllo (said: “fee-low”, not “f-eye-low” as the kids keep reminding me) can test your patience more than a 3-kid teen+tween combo.

If your kid eats it and praises you simultaneously, I say “suck it up and make the strudel!”

From Stop and Smell the Rosemary, The Junior League of Houston Cookbook

  • 1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached and chopped into small pieces (about 2-3 cups of cooked chicken)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound fresh spinach – or one box frozen
  • 12 oz Muenster cheese, shredded (3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large beaten egg
  • 1 lb. frozen phyllo pastry – thawed
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • Paprika

Heat olive oil and saute onions.  Add spinach and cook for 5 minutes.  Let cool.  Stir in cheese, wine, salt and pepper, and egg.  Add chicken.

Set oven at 375 degrees. 

Place one sheet of phyllo dough on waxed paper.  Brush with butter and sprinkle each layer with 2 tablespoons bread crumbs.  Repeat to make 4-5 layers.  Spoon half of the chicken mixture onto one end of the dough.  Roll and tuck in edges and end.  Brush top with additional butter and sprinkle with paprika.  Repeat steps above to make a second loaf.  Make diagonal cuts on top of each loaf – about 1” apart.  Place on a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool before slicing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


We are on a biscuit-quest.  We have tested numerous recipes many of which tasted like wet flour that was baked.  Appealing, right?  And then we have back-to-back delicious biscuits at both Culinary Dropout (in Phoenix) and Street’s Fine Chicken (in Dallas).  I think it may have to do with the melted butter and the drizzle of honey, but hey, I can do that too (I can’t fry chicken like either place though so I guess I’ll be going back).   

During our chili/soupaplooza and coffee cake baking extravaganza, Andrew wanted to make something so my sports-playing, show-no-interest-in-cooking-ever-before kid chose something easy like biscuits (haha).  He found a recipe that we hadn’t tried before, this one from Bobby Flay.  The method seemed so similar until you drown it in heavy cream right before baking and then brush with melted butter after (we chose not to top with ground black pepper – it messes with the honey). 

By the way, Sam Fox, your next Culinary Dropout and Olive & Ivy need to be in Dallas.  We already have Flower Child.  Email me – I’ll help you scout your locations (but only if you share your Culinary Dropout biscuit recipe). 

Happy (big X-0) Birthday Michael!!!

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing
  • 1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with butter or line with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Combine until the ingredients are incorporated. Cut in the butter using your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and gently mix until the mixture just begins to come together.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter. Pat the dough into a 10 by 12-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 2-inch squares or use a 2-inch round cutter to cut out biscuits. Press together the scraps of dough, and repeat the process. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with cream. Bake the biscuits until lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Brush the tops with the melted butter. Cool on a baking rack.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Franklin Barbecue Sauce

Franklin Barbecue Sauce
Guess what?  Franklin Barbecue has a cookbook (we are officially obsessed.  That must be what 5 hours in line does to you.  It makes you committed).  Travis let me buy it and then the kids gave it to David and then Travis stole it from David and started reading.  That sounds about right.  The happy outcome was the homemade BBQ sauce that Travis made - we all agreed that it is worth the effort to make your own.  It tasted pretty darn good on David’s pulled pork sandwiches on a buttered bun (everything is better on a buttered bun) with this cole slaw.  Hello 2018!!  

  • 1 ¾ cups ketchup
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ¼ cup + 1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and warm over medium heat.  Stir occasionally.  Do not boil.  Your goal is to melt and integrate the ingredients.  Remove from heat; cool.  Serve and enjoy.  Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Happy Birthday Gigi, Ed and Jeff!

Saturday, December 30, 2017


Chicken Chili
It’s cold outside!  I know, Texas is not as cold as other parts of the country right now but…  Between the cold and New Year’s – a day when no one really wants to cook but everyone always wants to eat – we are preparing a chili/soupapalooza. 

Tortilla Soup
Ranch Style Chili
It is hard to believe that 2017 is coming to a close.  In the new year, I plan to cook more (in our new house where hopefully more than 1 burner on the stove top functions and the oven doesn’t have as many hot spots).  Best wishes to each of you.  Thank you for sticking with The Baker’s Mann!  Happy cooking, healthy eating (sometimes), and making memories over good food!

What’s cooking in our house right now ready to be heated and eated: 

And because you can’t survive only on liquids: