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The Old Hen B&B closed May 31, 2014. We recommend The Roaring River B&B 425.888.4834 and The Log Cabin B&B 425.533.8278 for your North Bend get-away. Please stay tuned for Deanna's cookbook plans. Here's to starting from scratch. Talking about The Old Hen online? Our hashtag is #theoldhen .

Roasted Butternut Squash

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I’ve always disliked squashed squash.

Pumpkin ravioli? Meh.


Soup? Even more meh.

Overcooked? There are not enough mehs in the world.

But I’ve wanted to like it. I’ve tried with my whole heart. I’ve even ordered it at fancy restaurants to be sure I wasn’t judging my squash over a bad recipe.

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But, I’m not a quitter. So, last September I accepted the gift of a butternut squash from some amazing gardeners, my in-laws. I was scared but excited.

And so it sat.

And sat.

It was moved to a new location.

And it sat.

And here we are in March.

Today I was brave. What I found was what I had wondered all along. Would I like roasted squash better than squashed squash?

Yes. Yes, I would. And with the excitement level of a chihuahua I am happy to say I love roasted butternut squash. I admit. I did use bacon in my recipe but I can say with ease that I would love this dish even without the bacon.

Ingredients

  • 4 strips of thick-cut bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 fresh butternut squash, diced into one inch squares (or, you know, one from last September)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • Couple of dashes of sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Spread out bacon pieces in (preferably) in a shallow non-stick roasting pan. (A half sheet pan with sides or a 9X13 baking pan will work too. Line with foil for easy cleanup).

Put remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well-combined and coated with maple syrup and salt & pepper.

Place squash mixture upon bacon pieces.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Give a gentle toss and serve on a platter.

Dare I say? I might even like the leftovers ground into a soup puree in the food processor. But tossed and roasted will always be my very favorite.

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Lemon Bars Recipe

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As an oldest child, I remember having special privileges – privileges like staying up late with mom to watch Dynasty. Once a week, we would make lemon bars and snack ourselves into the world of shoulder pads and male stunt doubles in awful wigs playing the roles of over-privileged, fighting women.

Lemon bars never made me feel entitled, though; nor, did they throw me into cat fights. After all, many of us oldest kids understand with great lemon bars comes great responsibility. I washed plenty of dishes & piles of laundry and babysat my siblings to earn my guilty pleasures of watching Dynasty.


And, when I hadn’t, I just sneaked behind my dad’s armchair to watch from the hallway. Don’t tell mom.

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Lemon Curd

  • Lemon zest from 3 fresh lemons
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (this will take about 3-4 juicy lemons to create)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (milk is fine substitute in this recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter

Place lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and egg yolks into a saucepan and whisk together well. Then whisk in cream and cornstarch until cornstarch is dissolved.

Cook’s notes:

  1. Don’t add the cream before the sugar because the lemon will curdle the milk. Don’t add the cornstarch before the sugar because, well, the lemon will deactivate the Wonder Twin Powers of the cornstarch… it’s all that acid-y science stuff. Basically, sugar brings everyone together. 
  2. Save egg whites in fridge for an egg white omelet or 1/4 cup will replace one large egg in other recipes.

Now that no participants are deactivating other participants and egg whites have been rescued from the trash, place saucepan over medium high heat. Cook while whisking continuously. Remove from heat when you see it start to thicken. Stir in butter until fully melted.  Set aside. Mmmmmmm.

Cookie Bar Dough

  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Place all ingredients together in mixer. Mix until combined.

Lemon Bars Assimilation

Press cookie bar dough into an 9X13 pan. Pour lemon curd evenly over cookie bar dough in pan. Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes.

Best if served when cooled to room temperature and refrigeration will make them firmer for a cleaner cut – not that mom & I did this. Like. Um. Ever. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar through a sifter if desired. Cut into delightful, golden squares.

Your Own Creative Touch

There are many ways to make these lemon bars your very own. You can mix 1/4 cup of poppy seeds into the cookie bar dough.

Or, how about spreading a thin layer of strawberry jam over the dough before adding your lemon curd.

Or, how about this craziness? Cream cheese filling in the middle? Don’t have a cream cheese filling recipe? No worries. I’ve got your back…

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter (or 1/2 a stick) softened
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Dash of salt

Whip ingredients together for a few minutes. Use as a filling in between the cookie bar layer and lemon curd in your lemon bars.

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How to Make Butter-y Homemade Croutons

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I don’t mean to brag, but I made a couple of bad choices that led to a good choice this week.

Choice 1: I’d purchased a really long, skinny loaf of French bread from the grocery store. I don’t remember what I bought it for now; but, whatever good intentions I had fell apart. While my intentions fell apart, the French bread loaf got firmer.


Choice 2: I chose to ignore the issue. It didn’t go away.

Choice 3: I decided I would try to redeem myself. It might’ve been too late, but I was willing to take a knife to my now brick-like loaf of bread. The result is delicious, and now I have good intentions of using these butter-y beauties upon a salad. I’ll let you know how my salad choice goes.

In the meantime, here is my homemade butter-y croutons recipe. It’s versatile and dependable… even when our intentions are not.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Ingredients

  • 1 long, skinny cheap loaf of grocery store French bread (or a short, chubby one)
  • 1 cup (yup, two sticks) of the best butter you can find (I always use salted)
  • 3 T. garlic powder (or 4-5 fresh garlic cloves)
  • Light dusting of salt

Allow loaf of French bread to sit out uncovered over night. Using a bread knife cut loaf of French bread into about 1/2 to 3/4 inch squares. Spread squares over a half sheet pan (preferably one with edges).

Melt butter completely over low heat. At the end, add garlic powder or minced garlic if using fresh. Stir together.

How the butter-y goodness kisses the bread cubes is up to you. I like quickly dipping a spoonful of squares into the butter with a slotted spoon, then placing them back onto the tray. Some might prefer to drizzle. Some may prefer to mix them all together in a large bowl. Whatever your method, make sure the bread cubes are well-covered with butter mixture.

Place all butter-coated bread cubes upon the tray again. Spread them out well. Dust a wee bit of sea salt over the croutons.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until croutons are golden brown as pictured. You may like to toss them a bit mid way through the baking cycle.

Other things you can add to the butter mixture include Beau Monde spice (celery flavor), onion powder, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, etc.

Get creative. After all, it’s your very own bad bad good choice.

 

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Blueberry Pancakes Recipe

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I’ve never been one to get into food “holidays”. I mean, who celebrates Bread Machine Month? Please rise. National Pretzel Day? That’s just twisted. National Melba Toast Day? Anyone? Anyone? National Caffeine Awareness Month? Zzzzz. National Kahlua Day? Well, okay. Maybe that one is worth celebrating.

But what kind of innkeeper would I be if I didn’t celebrate national Blueberry Pancake Day? It’s a peer-pressure thing. Really, I just couldn’t wait to take this photo.


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Let the celebration commence.

BLUEBERRY SAUCE RECIPE:

  • 18 ounces blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice from 1/2 a fresh lemon
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch

Place all ingredients in a medium-large saucepan. Stir together until cornstarch has dissolved. Heat on medium-high until sauce boils. Cook until it becomes thick then remove from heat. If needed, warm up again when pancakes are ready.

PANCAKE RECIPE:

  • 1 cup milk or buttermilk (+2 tablespoons regular milk for thinner pancakes)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, flour-coated

Whisk pancake ingredients minus the blueberries together until well combined and smooth. Sprinkle blueberries with flour until coated & discard excess flour. Gently stir blueberries into pancake batter.

Place your very best non-stick pan on a burner and preheat to low. It will be tempting to pour the batter upon the pan before it is hot, but do not give in to the temptation. When the time is right, pour 1/3 cup of better into the pan to make about a four-inch pancake.

Wait until the bubbles that form all around the edges of the pancake begin to burst, then flip.

When pancakes are all cooked, smother in lovely blueberry sauce… or with butter and maple syrup… or, you know, just send a friend a card and eat some Melba Toast.

Looking for some helpful pancaking hints? Check out the wildly popular post How to make a Perfect Pancake. You got this.

 

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Black Bean Salad Recipe

If I were voted president, the world would be less consumed with guarding wetlands and more focused saving cilantro fields for I have never met a cilantro dish I have not loved.

Of course, if I were voted into office, Nutella crepes would be on the food pyramid, every ladies’ restroom would have a stall especially for little boys who are still practicing their aim, and rest areas would have two Marine’s on guard twenty-four hours a day.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 – 15 ounce cans black beans
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (red, yellow or orange or for more color, some of each)
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Sea salt & fresh ground pepper

Open cans of beans and rinse well with cold water. A most lovely natural doctor friend taught me to rinse the beans to prevent excessive gaseous anomalies. You’re welcome.

Place beans and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to medium low. Cook for 30 minutes.

Rinse beans with cold water until chilled and drain.

Place beans and all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well and place in a pretty serving dish.

Of course, if everyone ate more cilantro, the world would be a better place and we might not need the Marine guard part, so let’s get started.

Today’s make the world a better place to do list:

1. Eat this bean salad.

2. Buy more Nutella.

3. Vote.

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Santa Fe Chipotle Burger Recipe

 If you could use a little zip and zing in your life, I have a gift for you.

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She is spicy and zesty. She is sauce-y and sweet. She doesn’t care about long walks on the beach or sunsets. She wants to party and sit by the grill with an electric ice tea. She is the Sante Fe burger. You will love her.

Burger Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground chicken or hamburger
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (AKA smoked chili peppers), drained & minced
  • Sea salt & pepper (don’t skimp)
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 slices pepper jack cheese
  • 3 bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 orange)
  • 4 romaine lettuce leaves

Remove excess sauce from adobe peppers and mince well. Then combine with the burger very well. Mix in salt & pepper as well. A large bowl and a latex glove is very handy for messy jobs like this one.

Shape into burgers and cook until middle of each burger reaches 160 degrees for hamburger and at least 165 degrees for chicken or turkey. If using ground chicken or turkey, drizzle pan or brush grill with olive oil first.


While waiting for burgers to cook, spread a little butter on both sides of each of the hamburger buns and toast under the broiler. It’s smart to keep oven door a little bit open so that these are not forgotten and burned – not that I have ever done that or anything.

When burgers are fully cooked, place a piece of pepper jack cheese on each one and cook until melted. Drain excess grease.

Green Chili Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 -4 ounce can mild green chilis
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • Dash sea salt & freshly ground pepper

For a cool, refreshing sauce to balance out the heat of the chipotle peppers, we make mild green chili sauce.  Stir mild green chiles, minced garlic, cumin, lime juice into sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the hamburger buns are finished toasting, spread green chile sauce on each one. Add lettuce and some slices of sweet bell peppers for even more deliciousness.

You don’t meet a girl like this every day.

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Tator Tot Casserole Recipe

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Once upon a time there was a little girl who adored church potlucks. She really couldn’t decide which she loved best, hugs from snuggly grandmas or their comforting dishes that sat upon the potluck table. One dish always stood out in the crowd, okay, maybe two. The first was a blackberry crumble. I… er… she was old enough to bake and wanted so badly to ask for the recipe but somehow it felt inappropriate to do so at a funeral.


The other was tator tot casserole. Although anyone can throw together some tots and cream of mystery soup, homemade is always the very best.

 Tator Tot Casserole Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1 pound ground chicken, turkey or beef
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 32 ounces chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • One 16 ounce package tator tots
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Cook onions in olive oil until golden brown (caramelized) then remove onions from pan and set aside.

Add and cook ground meat. Season with salt & pepper. I find ground turkey more flavorful than beef. Healthier too. We need all the health we can get because like I said, this dish is quite sinful.

Preheat oven to 350F.

If using ground beef, remove most of the excess grease, leaving a few tablespoons of it in the pan.

Sprinkle flour over meat & onions.

Stir flour into mixture and cook for about five minutes while continuing to stir so that flour cooks (otherwise your sauce will taste like raw flour).

After flour is cooked, add chicken (or beef) stock. Continue to stir over heat.  Over time, the sauce will thicken.

Add fresh or frozen peas & carrots to your liking. Celery or water chestnuts can add a nice crunch if you like. Season with salt, pepper and your favorite house seasonings (like Johnny’s, Spike or Lawry’s). Now is a great time to try your sauce for flavor & see if it needs anything. The meat is cooked, after all.

Fill bottom of dish with meat sauce. Place tator tots in an orderly fashion on top of sauce. I used two 8 inch pans (since I was taking one of them to a couple who is celebrating having their first baby) but this recipe works great for one 9 X 13 pan.

Bake about 20-30 minutes or until tator tots are golden brown & sauce is bubbly.

Do three hail Marys, take communion, complete one Zumba class and then add grated real cheddar cheese over tots.

Bake again until cheese is melted and bubbly and sign up to take Zumba class regularly.

Consider yourself snuggled by a grandma, then go eat an apple. I’m sorry. You’re welcome. I’m sorry.

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© Deanna Morauski 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016