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Spicy Marinated Butternut Squash

A few months ago we celebrated my Mam’s birthday. My mam loves Mexican food – well probably more Tex-Mex, to be honest, and so I prepared a feast. We had so much food. I think we had two different types of rice – my Easy Dressed-Up Cilantro/Coriander Rice and Green Rice (will have to share some day but as it’s something that I only make, from a recipe book, on very special occasions that will be some time in the distant future), as well as chicken and beef, lots of veggies, burritos, tacos and salads. In two words: A FEAST!

The chicken was from this recipe book that I bought for my sister a couple of years ago called Everyday Mexican and it’s a wonderful little book that includes aforementioned Green Rice  as well as this fantastic Chicken Fajitas recipe where the chicken is marinated in honey/maple syrup, oregano and chili-flakes. It was a hit, particularly with the adults at the table and I definitely need to make it again at some point.

The taste of that chicken had remained with me and I loved the marinade so much that I started to think what else I could use it with when the idea of marinating butternut squash went off like a light bulb and the rest, as they say, was history.

I consider this a “base recipe” and as you’ll see over the next few weeks I have incorporated it into several different meals where it is a star ingredient. One thing I will say is if you are working, this is the type of recipe to leave until the weekend or to have another dinner planned to eat while you marinade, especially if you go the full three hours! BUT, it’s worth it. All of the ingredients work really well together but the chili is my favourite bit. It shines through with every bite, and if you leave the cooked butternut squash for a day or two in the fridge, it gets even better. Be warned though, little mouths and sensitive mouths may not like this dish.

Lastly, after a long absence I am sharing this at Fiesta Friday #141 which is hosted by the lovely Angie and her co-hosts, Julianna @ Foodie on Board and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.

So without any further ado, here’s the recipe:

Spicy Marinated Butternut Squash

(adapted from Everyday Mexican, a collection of essential recipes – link to Amazon included)

Serves 3-4


  • 1 butternut squash (medium – large, or 2 small), peeled, seeds scooped out*, and diced into approx one inch thick*
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup/honey**
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • salt and pepper to season


  1. Place the oil, maple syrup/honey, red wine vinegar, oregano, chili, garlic, and salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl or dish and mix together.
  2. Add the butternut squash and toss, making sure each piece is covered in some marinade.
  3. Cover and place in the fridge for 3 hours. Make sure you turn the butternut squash chunks at least once in the three hours.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
  5. Put the butternut squash and marinade into a roasting tin/casserole dish and place in the middle rung of the oven. Turn the butternut squash every 20 minutes. The squash will reduce a little in volume as it cooks.
  6. The butternut squash will be cooked in 40-50 minutes but I prefer the butternut squash to be nicely browned so I leave it in for 1 hour.
  7. Remove from the oven and put into a bowl, ensuring you include any remaining cooked marinade. Serve immediately or wait to cool and use as you wish.

*I cook the seeds as they are an optional addition for the next recipe I will be sharing.I use TheKitchn’s guide to roasting butternut squash seeds.

**I used honey with the chicken but I used both honey and maple syrup with the butternut squash. I don’t know which I prefer, so try both and let me know what you think.


Not a spice fan: If you want to try this but don’t like spicy food, perhaps halve the marinading time. You could also halve the chili flakes. Let me know how it turns out!

Suggestions for use: I’ve a great recipe coming next week that showcases this butternut squash but in the meantime you could add to your own salads or eat with rice for a simple healthy meal.


Fried Egg Grilled Cheese Sandwich

“Well, many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese–toasted, mostly…”

~ Robert Louis Stevenson III

The last few months, I’ve been back teaching English as a foreign language after almost a year away from it, so life has been hectic since I last posted. My first 4 weeks back at teaching I had a heck of a journey – easily 1.5 hours each way every day which was a longer commute than I had in Korea-land. It was at a summer camp where I taught 6-18 year old students from all over Europe and Russia. It was really fun but intense and left little time for anything but work and travel. I also got free lunch every day which while not always healthy, and sometimes not even remotely tasty, was still very much appreciated. I then moved into the city where I have been working on and off since August for the company where I received my CELTA and who organised the aforementioned summer camp. It’s been hard to get used to teaching again AND having a life. It’s funny how one year away can affect all your good habits!

On my off days, I’ve been making this breakfast. I think it may definitely be up there in the Royalty of breakfasts. It’s delicious and I’m already wishing tomorrow was an off day because then I could eat this. Not only is it royalty, it is also easy to make and contains only 8 ingredients. Whenever I have it, I’m full for ages and not hankering for another bite to eat just an hour later. It’s not the healthiest of breakfasts but the avocado contains lots of healthy fats that help to counteract the more unhealthy aspects of butter and cheese.

Fried Egg Grilled Cheese

  • butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Cheddar cheese (red or white), thinly sliced
  • 1 scallion, diced
  • avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 ts[ Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Melt a teaspoon of butter in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Once melted, add an egg to the butter and gently fry. You don’t want the egg to get too crispy or the yolk to set too much as you will be cooking it further in the sandwich.
  3. Meanwhile, butter each slice of bread. Place one slice butter-side up and the other slice on top of that butter-side down.
  4. Place the thin cheese slices on this the butter-side down slice of bread, covering completely.
  5. Add the scallion and then the avocado
  6. Drizzle on the sweet chili sauce.
  7. Once cooked, remove the egg from the frying pan, and turn the heat to low.
  8. Add the fried egg to the sandwich
  9. Season with salt and pepper and then place a few slices of cheese on top. These slices of cheese do not need to cover the entire slice of bread.
  10. Take this top layer of bread and fillings and place, butter side down in the frying pan. Add the remaining slice of bread butter side up and gently fry the sandwich for about 2 minutes.
  11. Then add a lid and press down on your sandwich, gently. Leave to cook checking after a few minutes and then flip when golden brown on the bottom.
  12. Again cover, and leave to gently cook until golden brown all over. Remove from heat, slice in half and enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Nutella and Pumpkin French Toast Roll-ups

“The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate!”

~ Terry Moore

I know, I know! Pumpkin in June! It sounds crazy but when you get a craving – you get a craving! And, I’m not the only mad one in my family – my mother has requested a pumpkin pie for her birthday which is at the end of the month. Thankfully, what with our local Tesco having tins of pumpkin available all year round, indulging in the yumminess that is that autumn vegetable is easily sorted.

The following recipe is an idea I’ve been playing around with for a while. Of course, it was mostly inspired by the wonderful Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook and her amazing French Toast Nutella Roll-ups (a firm favourite with my two little helpers) but also by a memory of one Thanksgiving a long time ago. I was in college at the time and I was visiting my family in Omaha. My cousin, Bets, was making cheesecake for the dinner later on that night and her cheesecake was composed of chocolate and pumpkin. OH MY GOSH! The deliciousness of that cake has stayed with me since then. It was amazing! I’ve thought about it on and off over the years and when I got a craving recently for some pumpkin pie (we had a tin of pumpkin in our press), instead I decided to marry the pumpkin with Nutella and these wonderful, chocolate-y, pumpkin-y bites of hot deliciousness were born.

In fairness, to myself, I should let you know that I’ve been planning this recipe for a few months in my head but I only got round to making it last week for a PhD party as my sister had passed her PhD viva, which is an oral defense of her PhD, and we wanted to celebrate this achievement. My other sister made a fantastic dinner of cashew chicken and fried rice and several wonderful salads – and I made dessert.

The first batch of the pumpkin had a bit too much cloves in it but when I made the second batch of pumpkin, I reduced the amount and it was much better. I also upped the amount of Nutella and I think that these changes made them even better. These are quite rich and very filling so I would count 2 per adult. The Melon wasn’t overly keen on these but The Jam liked them a little. There is a fair amount of the pumpkin filling, so you could halve it and adjust the spices according to your own tastes. Otherwise, you could make these for breakfast over a few days.

I am sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday #123 which is hosted by Angie. You should check out the other wonderful entries there as well as Angie’s co-hosts Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Linda @ La Petite Paniere.

Pumpkin and Nutella French Toast Roll-ups

Makes about 30 roll-ups*


  • Pumpkin mix
    • 1 cup tinned pumpkin**
    • ¾-1 cup icing sugar
    • 3 -4 tbsp cream cheese
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • ¼-½ tsp ginger
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg
    • ¼ tsp cloves
  • approximately 30 slices white bread
  • Nutella
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • Butter for frying


  1. In a large bowl, place all the ingredients for the pumpkin mix into a bowl and then mix well together, set aside.
  2. In a shallow bowl, or rimmed plate, whisk together the eggs and milk, set aside
  3. On a plate mix together the cinnamon and granulated sugar, set aside.
  4. Roll each slice of bread as thinly as possible with a rolling pin. You can remove the crust if you want as it makes for easier rolling.
  5. Taking a heaped teaspoonful of Nutella and spread on half of one slice of rolled up bread, horizontally. Take a level teaspoon of the pumpkin mix and spread over the other half.
  6. Roll the bread to close over the fillings until it forms a tube.
  7. Repeat steps 5-6 until you have used all the bread that you want or until the filling is all gone.
  8. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and melt the butter.
  9. Meanwhile, roll each tube into the egg and milk mixture,  and then transfer, seam-side down in the frying pan. Fit as many filled bread tubes as you comfortably can into the frying pan. My frying pan took about 5 at a time.
  10. Cook until browned on each side and then remove from the heat and roll in the cinnamon-sugar.
  11. Eat as is, or serve with maple syrup and whipped cream. You can also serve as a side dish with eggs, sausages, pudding and rashers/bacon.

*We left the crusts on the bread, out of pure laziness, but if you take them off you would get a few more roll-ups out of the mixture. I used Brennan’s sliced pan to make my roll-ups but depending on the size of the bread you are using you could end up making more or less of these roll-ups. Good news, the pumpkin mix keeps for a few days, so you can have them, again and again and again.

** These are approximate measurements for the cream cheese, spices and sugar. I started with the lower end of each measurement, then I tasted the filling and decided to add a little more, but you can adjust according to your own tastes. However, I would keep the cloves and nutmeg at no more than a ¼tsp as they can be quite overpowering to taste.


Leftover pumpkin If, like me, you’ve used a tin of pumpkin puree, you will have some leftovers from the tin. I was able, due to testing this recipe, to use everything up during the week but if that isn’t the case for you, I’d suggest freezing any leftovers until you want to use them or follow these tips from The Kitchn.


Easy Chocolate Orange Sauce


Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive

~Joanne Harris

There it lay, shattered and cracked. Its pieces were a quarter-inch thick. Its edges, curving upwards, indicated its once rounded shape. We stared at the lump-hammer that had caused this destruction for one moment of suspended silence. Then, we rushed forward and started stuffing pieces into our mouths.

One year, a long, long time ago, my family received a gift of a giant Easter egg, possibly a Lir 0ne, if memory serves.  The egg was huge! According to my mam, maybe even as tall as 20 inches. Imagine! A chocolate Easter Egg TWENTY inches high. It was so thick that when we threw it on the ground we didn’t make a dint in it at all and, until my father smashed it to smithereens with his hammer, it remained impenetrable. To this day, I’ve never seen an Easter egg quite like it and, obviously, it made a huge impact on  my childhood memories. I don’t remember anything else about that day, what we wore or the other chocolates we received but that Easter Egg – it’s still talked about to this day on a frequent enough basis that when I gave the above description to my sister she guessed immediately what it was.

Recently, Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen made some Chocolate Orange Cream Tarts that sounded so amazing and it got me thinking about Terry’s Chocolate Orange and all the funny ads with Dawn French (one linked below). You are probably wondering what Terry’s Chocolate Orange has to do with my little story about the Easter Egg? Well, Terry’s Chocolate Orange is orange flavoured chocolate that is presented in the shape of an orange, segments and all! You can’t just break it open with just a tap, you have to give it a resounding thwack. While no lump-hammer is needed to accomplish this, you do need a wee bit of force to get it open, reminding me of that wonderful Easter morning.

In Ireland, Shrove Tuesday is known as Pancake Tuesday and you are not judged at all for eating pancakes all day long. So, that day, The Jam, the Melon and I made pancakes for lunch – crepe style as is popular in my home and one of my favourite ways to eat pancakes. We had them with butter and sugar for a sweet, and salami/ham and cheese for the savoury side. Then, for their dessert after dinner, I prepared Cookie and Kate’s Whole-wheat Pumpkin Pancakes  and served them with an incredibly delicious, satisfying, rich, indulgent, that makes you want to say “it’s not Terry’s! It’s mine,”  Chocolate Orange Sauce.

This sauce is incredibly easy to make with only 5 ingredients. The original recipe called for caster sugar but I wasn’t able to find any so we substituted Demerara sugar. If you use caster sugar, let me know how it goes! Also, if you don’t have access to Terry’s Chocolate Orange, you should look for good quality orange infused chocolate (I think, Lindt makes some). NB: This sauce would work much better on a simple crepe or pancake as it is so rich in its own right that it can take away from flavoured pancakes, like the pumpkin one. It also is amazing on ice-cream, especially vanilla, which is how we ate it for my Dad’s birthday.

PS: Sorry, the photos aren’t great as I only had the kitchen light for taking photos (it was dark by the time I got around to it, both times! I’ll make it again once Lent is over and I’ll take better photos then.)


Easy Chocolate Orange Sauce

(Adapted from BBC Good Food)

Makes around half a cup


  • 75g/ Terry’s Chocolate Orange pieces
  • 25g/ butter
  • 125ml double cream/heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp Demerara sugar
  • zest 1 orange


  1. Over a double broiler, gently melt the chocolate
  2. Meanwhile, stir the remaining ingredients together in a small saucepan and heat until evenly combined.
  3. Remove both pots from the heat, and add the orange cream bit by bit to the melted chocolate stirring it together each time you pour some cream into the chocolate.
  4. Once well combined, serve immediately or, once cooled, pour into a jar and refrigerate until needed. You can serve it cold or warm it up and it will keep for around 3 days.


The second time I made this, for my Dad’s birthday, I wasn’t using a scales and I estimated how much chocolate I needed. The thing is I forgot that 75g is a little over a third of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and I ended up using nearer two thirds! While delicious, it didn’t stay “liquid-y” and instead hardened up once cooled. So the moral of the story is – use 75g and not any more than that!

I am sharing this on Fiesta Friday #111 which is hosted by Angie and her co-hosts this week are:  Naina @ Spice in the City and Julianna @ Foodie On Board




Mam’s Celebration Date Roll

Firstly, Happy Leap day, everyone! I know someone who actually turns 2, officially, today! Do you know anyone who has a Leap year birthday? What did you do with your extra day? I studied, cooked a recipe I’ve been trying out, went on a few walks to hit my goal (one more to do!) and worked on this post. It may not have been exciting but it was productive!

Secondly, my apologies for the lateness of this recipe as I know I have had some requests for it for over 6 weeks and I’m only getting to it now. I promised myself that I wouldn’t post any new recipes after my last IMK until this one was out, hence the delay – but I kept true to my word and this is my first recipe since then.

The below recipe is one my Mam adapted years ago from a recipe she found in the Irish Independent newspaper (way back in 1985!). It was similar enough to something she remembered her own mother making that she was intrigued and began to incorporate her adaptation into our family’s traditions. We usually eat this at Thanksgiving and Christmas when my Mam will whip up a litre or so of cream for the various desserts, so the amounts given below are approximations only. If it’s too dry add more whipped cream, if it’s too wet, more digestive biscuits. It’s so forgiving you can add more or remove any of the other dry ingredients depending on your own tastes. For example, my sister, Mary Ann, used to only like hers with digestive biscuits, marshmallows and pecans, whereas my brother, who was vegetarian, usually ate his with out the marshmallows (yes, that means my Mam made three variations of this dessert some years!).

Mam’s Celebration Date Roll


  • ½ cup dry dates, diced
  • ½ cup marshmallows, diced
  • ½ cup pecans or walnuts,* diced
  • ¼ cup glacé cherries, diced
  • 250g/8oz digestive biscuits/graham crackers, crushed
  • 500ml/ 2 cups  whipping cream (We use Avonmore Fresh Cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp sugar


  1. In a large bowl, mix the dates, marshmallows, pecans, cherries and crushed biscuits together.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whip the cream, adding the vanilla and sugar when soft peaks form.
  3. Fold enough  cream into the dry ingredients that the mixture will hold it’s shape, any remaining cream can be used for serving.
  4. Form the mixture into a roll or wreath.
  5. Chill for at least 24 hours before serving and serve with whipped cream on the side.**

*We prefer pecans.

**This will keep for three to four days in the fridge, so it’s a great make-ahead dessert.

I am sharing this recipe on Fiesta Friday #108 which is hosted by Angie. Luckily for me, Fiesta Friday goes until Tuesday! Angie has some great blogging tips up, you should check them out about optimising your photos. The co-hosts this week are:  Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Zeba @ Food For The Soul so be sure to check out their posts and all the others over a Fiesta Friday!